Auld Lang Syne
It’s been a week now. A full seven days, and now, a few hours more… And while I’m better, I’ll never be “over” it. Just like I’ll never be “over” my mother’s passing. Or the passing of Wil, or Trinah, or Troy, or Mikey, or, bestillmyheart, my darling, amazing Hannah, all those years ago. Sure, Cutter was “just” a dog, but for me, dogs are my family. Dogs keep me happy; safe; and sane (you don’t even know how sane). For me, dogs are why life is worth living.
For weeks the title of “There is no joy in Mudville” was playing in my head. Followed by “The mighty Cutter has struck out.” That’s about all of that poem that I know, but it’s all that I need to know. Another was “Cutter has left the building.” He was an Elvis of a dog, though not known by so many as The King. But he was my buddy, and I miss him so; I’ve cried lakes full of tears in the past seven days.
Milan Kundera said it best, in a quote (partial quote) that I’ve held close for over a decade now: “Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace.”
I know little of Milan Kundera beyond this quote; and it’s the first sentence that gets me. And the second sentence tells me that perhaps ol’ Milan never had a bitch like my Hannah – not evil (for dogs don’t know evil) but jealousy and discontent, you better believe it – there ain’t nothing like a Rottweiler bitch for knowing what she wants. I heart Hannah (5/2/85 – 9/12/97). But they are our link to paradise. And that last sentence? My doG, Milan – in your perfect phrasing, you and I don’t know the half of it. (And where is my own Milan in 2011?)
I’ve been running on empty for the past week, without my buddy here,
without my bigstrongboy to provide my life with reason, with hope, with joy. On New Years Day it became obvious that I couldn’t hold on any longer. Cutter was ready, and not having fun any more. I smile in the dramatics of the significance of the day – what a good boy, playing into my latent drama queen tendancies (Latent? he says). No plain old day for Cutter. No, the first day of the New Year and I was off to ER, after a tear-filled call to my dog friend, my separated-at-birth-sister, Laurie. I knew it was time, but she helped me with knowing it was okay (even though it wasn’t, and she and I both knew it wasn’t…it’s the circle of life fee we both paid, gladly, when we chose to share our life with dogs).
On January 1, 2011, my beloved Cutter passed to the Other Side. It’s been a week and I can hardly believe he’s gone. I know I was blessed to have had him for so long – 12 ½ is getting up into notable territory for Rottweilers, and for an epileptic Rottweiler he was a near miracle. It was a long and hard fought eight (fucking 8!) years with epilepsy – a condition I hated, but would do all over again if it meant I could keep Cutter even a moment longer. He was my bigstrongboy, my Cuter 🙂 (can’t tell you how often I forgot the second T, Freudian or not), my amazing buddy.
He was a one in a million dog, so sweet and lovable, an ambassador for his breed even as the anti-seizure drugs took their toll (heavy duty sedation, zombie behavior). And he was so strong, fighting so hard for me, with me, as I rolled in the dirt (figuratively) scrabbling with the specter of epilepsy that plagued our lives. He stayed with me as long as he could, and would have stayed longer if I’d asked, if I needed. I told him a week before that he only had to let me know and I’d take care things. He growled at me then and went to get a drink of water. Good boy.
But it was obvious over New Year’s Eve he was having a hard time. Breathing had become more difficult for him, as the nasal tumor grew into the right nasal passage. There was fresh bloody discharge out of the right nostril now, too, and he just couldn’t get the hang of mouth breathing as he tried to sleep. I think he had begun to feel physical pain as well; it was obvious he wasn’t having fun any more. The look he gave me that morning was one of resignation, even as he ate his breakfast heartily (if slowly). I’m glad I didn’t wait too long, where even eating was no longer an enjoyment.
And as awful as the nasal tumor was, I’m glad that seizures didn’t take him – his last grand mal was two weeks before Christmas, and his last cluster a mild one over the summer. It had been over a year since he’d been in ER, and his last bad cluster was over Christmas of last year, when we squeaked by with loads of rectal valium and a near miss for going to ER. So in a weird way I feel like we beat epilepsy in the end.
I told him I would never leave him, and we went to the ER vet on Saturday, New Year’s Day; he was ready even if I wasn’t (and never would be). I brought him home with me afterwards and had a wake of sorts in the back of my car that night with a candle and my sobbing, sometimes wailing self lying next to his oh-so-still form on that cold, cold night. I feel so lucky to have had access to a relatively new pet crematory service. Carrie and her husband Shawn, of Precious Pets Animal Crematory, were so kind and compassionate and came in for me on Sunday (and holiday weekend), for which I can’t thank them enough. They are set up much like a human funeral home with a grieving room and tasteful décor geared toward pet bereavement. I stayed through the procedure and brought Cutter’s remains home with me that same day.
He was my best buddy, and I’ll never, ever forget him or the gifts he gave me. Gifts that include Laurie – Auld Lang Syne is for you and your sweet Scots, my dear friend – Pat, and Dell (each of them now on my list to visit in person – look out gals!) and and the many others we met via the Canine Epilepsy Guardian Angels, not the least of whom is Joanne Carson, who literally saved Cutter’s life all those years ago. I am indebted to her, and there’s no way I know to repay her for all she’s given me. Which brings up another quote by Milan Kundera: “There is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echos.” Milan was born the same year as my mother. The Unbearable Lightness of Being. There are no coincidences…
And lastly, I have to thank Cynthia, Cutter’s breeder. She knew from his earliest days – just a fuzzy puppy toddling around the puppy pen – that he was meant to be with me, but it was three years before I was ready for his handsomeness. I’d lost my darling Wil in June 2000, and sweet Trinah in January 2001, and Dinah and I were drifting. Cutter came bursting into our lives in July 2001, full of life and happiness, and made both of us whole. I am in your debt, Cynthia, but maybe Kyleah was a pre-payment? I hope she brought you as much happiness as Cutter brought to me. As much happiness as her mother, the never-to-be-equaled Hannah, gave to me.
The epilepsy that came 18 months after I got him? Well, if I had to do it all over again I would, no hesitation. He was worth it and then some. Sure, I wish he didn’t have to go through that, that we didn’t have to, but would I do it again? You bet your LIFE I would – he was that special. In the week that’s passed since he died in my arms (head on my lap, that last, long exhale that had me involuntarily rocking, keening over his still form), I’ve compartmentalized his passing – not telling anyone at work until the end of the week, and pretending that nothing’s wrong…until I get home, and the hole left by his absence threatens to swallow me whole. His beautiful (right to the very end), beautiful form, big round head and sweet expression, that perfect Rottweiler head and ideal temperament – not a pushover, but not too sharp, either. His crossed front paws and frog leg stretch, so handsome and cute at the same time. And yes, those oversized gonads that made me giggle and perversely (!!) proud at the same time. He was intact to the end, and I remember giggling over the last time he had an erection – not too long ago, thankyouverymuch – excited over my return home one day, and feeling good and enjoying life. That’s my boy.
Even through this loss I am still blessed, with the others keeping me company in my grieving. I still have my darling Dinah of course, Cutter’s favorite girl (getting up there in years herself), whom he adored, as well as those crazy English Setters, Farley and Pal, who entertain me daily, and his kitty Jasper, and cats Paige and Peachie too (the cats all loved Cutter), but I do miss him so, and there’s such a huge hole in my life – I hardly know what to do with myself at med times…
SAF Diamond Cutter v. Snohaus (AKC pointed)
6/5/98 – 1/1/11
My Cutter-butter, my butterball, my buddy, I will love you forever.