(I wrote the following last December, 2015. The photo was taken during Winter’s last camping trip, the weekend before she died. Last Sunday, Jen and I picked up Winter’s ashes, a paw print, and a lock of her fur.)
Winter Dog, sweet Winter Dog.
Her hind end has been shaking more and more. Lately, when we go for walks in a Portland park, and she knows it’s a walk and not a sniff and stroll through the hood, Winter follows behind me, her hind legs only there for balance. They move like her pads are sticking to the ground, some herky-jerky movement, a stiff swinging motion uncomfortable when not in contact with the earth.
I love her eyes lately. They’ve always gotten bright with joy every time we go for a hike, or the local park during the last few years. But, there is an extra spark in them, a wisdom, a knowing that something is different. Maybe Winter knows her time with me is limited. I sense this from her. But it’s different, it’s some doggy awareness, its meaning far different from mine.
I think about Winter dying a lot lately, or at least her death is always close to the surface of my thoughts. Sometimes she lies so still on her bed and I reassure myself that she’s going deaf. So, I call her name or give a command like “lets go,” and she still lies there. And, I think, “Oh shit, is she dead? Is it time?” but just for a second, or until I touch her and she startles, looking up from the bed, then slowly, shakily, Winter smiles and rises, ready to go wherever. (December 2015)