The Other Me

The Other Me

‘Life’s Short Interruption: Part II’

Allie and I fought again when she wanted to go away for about four days, and I refused because I didn’t want to leave Wolf. She asked me how long I would plan my life around Wolf, fearing this could go on indefinitely. On the supplements, Wolf looked better than she had in years and the psychic healer claimed she’d recover, but I was tentative – this was cancer we were dealing with. There seemed an inevitability about it.

Not for Allie. She was infuriated that now that she wanted to get on with the relationship, we were planning our lives around my dog. We argued violently. I told her to go find somebody to fit her needs. She backtracked, but I was disgusted by her lack of compassion in what were unique circumstances – you’re not always going to have a dog suffering from cancer, so why behave like this was an everyday occurrence?

In the end, she went away with the kids.

I stayed home with Wolf.

That week, Wolf worsened. She had trouble getting up and sitting down, and her hind leg swelled up. We called a mobile vet to see her, but before he could visit, and as the weather surged past forty degrees, Wolf deteriorated and refused to move. I had to pick her up and take her into the basement, where it was cooler. For a while, she remained lucid, but as the day went on it was like she wanted to sleep, but was forcing herself to stay awake for us. She fell semi-conscious and salivated at the mouth. I picked her up and my brother and I rushed her to her vet. By the time we’d gotten there, her eyes were glazed and she was catatonic. The vet examined her, telling us that the tumour was bigger, and that her lymph nodes had shut down, hence the swelling in her left hind-leg. He suggested two courses of action: we could take her to Essendon Veterinary Hospital, where they’d put her on a drip and see how she responded overnight – although that meant this would probably just happen again; or, as she’d fought this as far as she could, we could take the humane option.

My brother and I held her as the vet injected her, and Wolf drifted off to sleep for the last time. It was precisely two months to the day when the vet had first discovered the lump in her stomach.

I don’t know if she was aware that we were there. I hope she was, because it was the very last thing I wanted to give her, as she slipped away. But it played on my mind that I hadn’t really gotten to say goodbye – not in a way that she was aware of.

Returning home, the house felt alien without her. There were reminders everywhere – her food and water bowls; her couch, now empty; even the absence of fur she shed everywhere. It was wrong that those things had changed. Everywhere I looked, she was absent in some way.

I SMSed Allie, and she told me that she wished she could be here for me. All I could think about was how angry she’d gotten at me for refusing to go away. If I had, I wouldn’t have been here for Wolf’s final days. She may have been a dog, but as anybody who owns a dog knows, a dog loves you unconditionally, accepts you unquestioningly, and never judges you. People generally don’t do that for you. Dogs do.

After Wolf being here for me for almost thirteen years, I’m not sure I could’ve lived with not being around for her final day.