4/02/2006

In Memoriam [APRIL 2, 2006]

Our faithful steed, our cherished companion, our loyal blind Labrador, Ema... passed away suddenly this week.



She had hardly eaten anything at all for about a week and had even once fainted from exhaustion when we decided to take her to the vet on Monday. The blood test results came back on Tuesday afternoon and it didn’t look too good. Acute kidney failure. Ema’s primary metabolic organ had ceased to filter out bodily toxins and would no longer expel them through the bladder. Her urine had, instead, turned into nearly the same consistency as water as the deadly toxins slowly built up in her bloodstream. By the time we noticed the problem – by the time the poison started having adverse effects on her eating habits and visibly altering her behavior – it was already too late. The vet told us she would soon lose her appetite completely and begin to vomit whatever bile had managed to work its way back up her digestive system. She would eventually starve to death if the toxins didn’t kill her first. Finally, we were told about one of the strange side-effects of the poisoned blood now coursing through our faithful friend’s veins. It was numbing her entire nervous system with the same result as if she were drunk, high, or both. She couldn’t feel a thing...



We took Ema home to consider her options and give our friend what would be the last thing she ever ate – a single slice of Spanish chorizo. We offered her more but she simply wouldn’t touch the cured meat. The predicted complete loss of appetite had already begun. Ema didn’t eat a morsel the rest of that day nor the next few days. She was soon too weak to even sit up or even wag her tail and, on Wednesday afternoon, emptied the contents of her bile-saturated stomach onto herself. There was nothing more that could be done. We made the difficult decision to euthanize our faithful companion and put her out of her misery as we scheduled that most difficult of visits to the veterinary office the next day...



The vet gave Ema a tranquilizer which put her to sleep as her furry doggie head rested on my crying fiancée’s feet. I gently lifted our slumbering comrade and took her into the operating room where we placed her on the stainless steel table in the center. The vet shaved her forepaw, found a vein, and inserted the needle. Our loyal steed’s heart ceased beating a few seconds later...



Time, it is written, heals all and I’m sure it will. After all, this is only our third day without Ema. The thing is – I never thought I would be so grief-ridden over the death of a mutt. If a year ago, someone had told me that their dog had just died, I would simply tell them to get over it and buy a new one. What’s the big deal? But things are different now. I only lived with Ema for a bit over half a year here in Spain, but she was my dog, damn it. She had her own personality, her own quirks, and her own habits. They say no human has the same exact fingerprint and I’m sure no doggie sniffs other doggie’s genitalia in the same exact way. What I now know that I didn’t one year ago is that you can always replace a pet, but you can’t replace an individual.


Ema started out as a pet - first my fiancée's and then mine...


But she ended up being more than that... A true member of the family

It’s these small things – those little quirks and habits – that my fiancée and I miss the most now that our little furry friend has parted. There’s no one to eagerly greet us with a wagging tail at the door anymore, only an empty apartment. There’s no one to follow me into the bathroom each time I go to stink it up, only a foul stench that lingers until a window is opened or a match is lit. Worst of all, there’s no one sleeping or resting under our kitchen table. That was Ema’s home, her bed. Now it just doesn’t feel the same each time I walk into that room. I still find myself looking underneath it, looking for that faithful face anxious to get a gentle pat on the head or little scratch on that soft tummy of hers... But she’s not just not there anymore. There’s an emptiness under that table now, just as there’s an emptiness in our hearts.


Who will put up with my bathroom stench now?


And when will I stop looking under the kitchen table for something that's not there?

Hell, I even miss the things that Ema used to do that really pissed me off. And nothing pissed me off more than her inopportune bowel movements. Every time she took a dump outside a busy street corner café or on the beach, I invariably ended up bending over to scoop up that stanky pile of poo. A brief apology to those staring at me degradingly and I would be on my embarrassed way. How I hated that mutt at moments like that! She even got in one last defecation-insult before she went... As I lifted a tranquilized, high and drunk Ema for the final time this past Thursday to put her on the vet’s operating table she – you guessed it – left a little poo scented smear on my favorite shirt and beige dress pants. But who can hold it against that faithful steed now? It must have been her way of saying goodbye... One last "zinger" for the road.

Ema could do her business at any moment... And I often paid the price with the infamous Poo-Finger

But all of that is now said and done. The good times and the bad have both begun that inexorable journey of change, a change into nothing but fond memories for those we once loved. Ema – our faithful steed, our cherished companion, our loyal blind Labrador – you will be sorely missed in both our homes and our hearts. And although I don’t believe in God, Buddha, Vishnu, or Jesus, I do believe in the Great Mutt-hammed. And I’m sure, wherever Ema may be in Doggie Heaven, she’s sniffing genitalia, chasing tennis balls, and pooing in front of busy cafés to her dear heart’s content...



_________________________________________________________________

Homer’s The Odyssey (Book XVII: 34-37) – Odysseus [in disguise as a beggar as he first arrives home in Ithaca] and Eumaios [his old friend who has yet to recognize the disguise] converse in front of Odysseus’ palace:

Now as these two were conversing thus with each other,
a dog who was lying there raised his head and ears. This was
Argos, patient-hearted Odysseus’ dog, whom he himself
raised, but got no joy of him, since before that he went to sacred
Troy. In the days before, the young men had taken him
out to follow goats of the wild, and deer, and rabbits;
but now he had been put aside, with his master absent,
and lay on the deep pile of dung, from the mules and oxen,
which lay abundant before the gates, so that the servants
of Odysseus could take it to his great estate, for manuring.

There the dog Argos lay in the dung, all covered with dog ticks.
Now, as he perceived that Odysseus had come close to him,
he wagged his tail, and laid both ears back; only
he now no longer had the strength to move any closer
to his master, who, watching him from a distance, without Eumaios
noticing, secretly wiped a tear away, and said to him:

"Eumaios, this is amazing, this dog that lies on the dunghill.
The shape of him is splendid, and yet I cannot be certain
whether he had the running speed to go with this beauty,
or is just one of the kind of table dog that gentlemen
keep, and it is only for show that their masters care for them."

Then, O swineherd Eumaios, you said to him in answer:
"This, it is too true, is the dog of a man who perished
far away..."

So he spoke, and went into the strongly settled palace,
and strode straight on, to the great hall and the haughty suitors.

But the doom of dark death now closed over the dog, Argos,
when, after nineteen years had gone by, he had finally seen Odysseus.
_________________________________________________________________

20 comments:

Carolyn Robles said...

I'm so sorry about your little friend! I've just spent hours reading your blog and a bit of your book, and just had to say hello and thank you. I'm an expat in Spain as well, and your blog has really brightened my day(not this entry, of course, sorry again about your sweet dog). I was reading your entries in chronological order so I feel so bad to be posting this to your last post. But I just wanted to say thanks for writing about your experiences. I'll be sure to come back often.

franca said...

Hello GC.

I'm really really sorry about Ema. I know how that feels. But she's in a better place now. And time will heal your wounds.

By the way, you have a great blog. :)

J said...

Even though I'm not a dog person, I have to express my condolences. I remember what it was like when I lost my cat many years ago.

parola. said...

That fucking SUCKS. I'm dreading the same situation with my 14 year old dog. I desperately want to go abroad and teach English but I don't want to leave him when he's so old. =( So.. I guess I'll just keep living invicariously through you.

Franje said...

Hello GC,
I'd like to express my condolences. I am sorry to hear of your loss, even though I am not a pet person.

I hope you and your fiancee are alright.

Ms Bees Knees said...

i am a complete MESS after reading that. my laptop is drenched in tears. listen, you both gave emma SO MUCH LOVE and she was truly blessed to have you both as loving parents. god, i'm so sorry! i just had to take my 11 year old cat to the vet today and just dread the day she'll have to leave me. Keep emma's memory close to your hearts always. she was indeed family. i'm sending my love!!

Andi said...

I'm so sorry.

angrylilazngrl said...

hello from germany. i am so sorry for your loss. what a good papa and mum ema had. we are sending you good karma from duesseldorf

Lisa said...

Condolences from Aachen to you and your lovely fiancee. :( This is sad news indeed.

christina said...

Oh,I'm so sorry. Reading this has me in tears because I know how much it hurts to lose a dear pet.

Ema had a great life with you guys and you did all you could for her.

The Expatriator said...

Dude, poo-fingers suck (and may, in fact, be my arch-nemesis), but even worse is losing a good dog. It sounds like Ema certainly had her moments with you, even if it wasn't for long. I too miss having my old border collie around for shits and giggles and good company when nature called. I too was not good at returning this favour.

But when the vet put him down it was definitely for the best. Those last few weeks can be a brutal way to remember someone. Ach, that last day was horrible...

Does your fiancee read your blog? If so, does she get your sense of humour? (I mean because she's Czech... nevermind)

And hey, get back to me about my last email... when you're ready ;).

GC PHILO said...

Hey everyone, thanks for the kind words. We're slowly but surely getting used to Ema not being around anymore...

To all the new visitors and posters to my blog.. Carolyn, Franca, Parola, Andi, Angrylilazngrl... thanks for stopping by and leaving the nice comments.

Expatriator - Of course my girlfriend gets my humor. Why do you think she agreed to marry me? I mean, good looks and a chiseled rock hard body can only take you so far - after that you need wit to win over a lady!

Lori said...

GC....I can't even express how I felt after reading that post...I felt like I lost a part of her also...with all the posting you do about her....and the pictures....I can't look at her and not see my dog I lost... in her eyes......She reminds me so much of Salty.....I hate that so bad for the both of you!!!

Pamela said...

I'm so sorry that you had to say farewell to Ema. I had to go through this with a cat I'd had for over a decade, a couple of years ago and I am dreading the day when I have to do so again for my 11 year old dog and best friend. There's no easy way to deal with it, I know, but I also know that you did what was best for her.

J.Doe said...

We are both sorry to hear about your loss.
Our condolences to both you and your fiance.

Chiri said...

Another one who went through something like this with a beloved pet, my cat. Hope you both feel better soon.

Angie said...

So sorry about Ema. I will miss all the stories you tell about her.

Cynthia Rae said...

I am very sorry for your loss. These pets come into our lives and the next thing we know, they have completely taken over. They become our friend, our secret keeper, our companion and our family.

Funny you should mention Homer’s The Odyssey, I have a friend who name his dog Argo after this very story.

Cyn

Anonymous said...

They taste like chicken.

Anonymous said...

Very sad story. I understand what you mean as I have lost a couple very close dogs as well. As far as I am concerned, pets are part of the family. Sometimes one does not realize what they have until it is gone.
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