I took Aura Lea, my wolfhound, to the vet today. Thankfully, just a routine check up. We usually spend an hour or two chatting at my vet’s office. You see, I have been going to him for over 30 years now; he knows my children, my grandchildren, and I think I have cried in front of him more than anyone outside of my own family.
Today was different. From what my ears gleaned from the receptionist office, someone was bringing their dog in earlier than the scheduled appointment, the dog was having trouble breathing. They would wait in their car.
We didn’t want to hold the vet up; I know what it is like to be that person on the other side of the waiting room……
We took Aura Lea out to our car and saw shadows in the back of the SUV parked next to us. Then, two women lowered a dog wrapped in a blanket to the ground. He was an ordinary dog…no recognizable breed, a mutt. Old, walking like years of arthritis had taken his vitality, he slowly came up to the vet’s back door.
Dogs understand; I know they sense what is coming. But they walk to that door bravely, worrying more about those that walk beside them. It was sad to see; I have seen it before at the vet’s, and I have been the one carrying that blanket as well.
Most of the time, parents never see their children leave this earth before them. Even 80 year old mothers must grieve unimaginable at the crossing of their 60 year old babies, never wanting to be the last to go. Sometimes, it happens. My brother’s only child left when disease took her before her third decade of life.
Most times, we expect to see our dogs leave us. We watch them as babies, then as senior citizens, ravaged by pain and stiffness, blindness, and disease. They are our children, we carry them in blankets as puppies; we carry them in blankets to that last walk across the vet’s threshold….
That ordinary brown dog, someones baby, someone’s old man, someone’s heart. I remember the empty car rides home when one of my own left. I felt sorry for those two women, the back of their SUV incredibly empty this afternoon.