And then my dog died. In truth he died before my last post, a reason for my delay, and in truth he wasn’t exactly my dog either, even after all of these years. After all of the times we walked and snowshoed together. The border patrol used to buzz us in their helicopter, till they got used to us disturbing their radar, two little linked shapes strolling along the border. He was never really my dog, despite that, although I wanted him to be.
|At rest, among books, like a good literary dog|
|Looking right at me|
|At rest, in love|
|Molting, as summer came on|
|In better days, hiking--I'm so happy now we took him with us on the Pinhoti Trail|
|Our winter snowshoe path beaten down|
It’s also hard to imagine going back to Maine without him. What kind of place will it be without him beside me? It’s hard to remember the last time we dragged him away from his home for the sake of our adventure. It’s hard to think of his face, his liquid eyes, his black-gummed smile, his velvet ears.
I’ve never lost a dog before. I’ve never really had a dog before, and I have this sense that my grief is unseemly, if not indulgent. Thinking back I remember my distaste for other people’s grief at the death of their dogs. But unlike when a person dies, it seems that Shadow has been erased, that he ceased to exist, that no one wants to talk about him or acknowledge their grief. You can’t have a funeral for a dog.
But he loved me better than a human being ever could. He loved me completely and unconditionally and more and better than a human being. His love was simple, without flaw, without grudge, freely give and freely received. When I scratched his belly, when I gave him the hard pat he loved, he dissolved in joy. I loved him with all my heart. And he loved me. I am grieving now not the end of his pain but how much worse a place the world is without him.
How many people are lucky enough to have their Jungian shadow made manifest? How many women are able to become wolf maidens? I keep hearing his whine, caught, distant, in the creaking of black branches. I see tufts of his hair caught in the grass.
I suppose I wish I’d spent more time with him when he was alive, but who doesn’t wish that when someone dies? I spent as much time as I was capable of spending at the time. I never believed he could really disappear. And now I have to be a person in the world without him.
I feel like Peter Pan. I’ve lost my shadow, and with it my ability to fly. All those walks together, not many, not enough. His beautiful perfect soft glove ears are gone forever. Ashes. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down. He’s in the wind now. In the trees. In the starlight. Isn’t that what heaven is? His consciousness become all consciousness. My Shadow.