Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Northeastern Regional Vice-Siegerin V Brianne vom hohlen Huegel, SchH 1, Kkl 1 Lbz 'a'
July 18, 2003 - May 20, 2013

Everyone handles it differently. Some swear off pets, some quickly buy a "replacement," some grieve deeply and take years to feel ready for another, some block or otherwise avoid processing the emotional aftermath of a companion's loss. I suppose procrastination applies to emotions as well as to actions, and in my case I think that lands me fairly squarely in the "avoider" column. Star, Gwydion, Sierra, Celti, Ginny, Jessie and so many others...gone years or decades. Brianne joined them four weeks ago, and her nobility and graciousness of spirit importune me to overcome my avoidance, to face and feel this loss. This is not a dog whose passing should go unremarked.

And yet... And yet, there is nothing, really, to be said. Those who have loved and been loved by a dog know the deep, rending pain of their absence. Of looking for those brown eyes in the familiar places, of glancing, seconds after having just done so, at the bean bag bed, expecting, yet again, to see the eyebrows raise and the tail thump in acknowledgement of our bond. Of grabbing the leash and, though (in my case) a half dozen others may leap and frolic and chortle, of listening in vain for a certain joyous yelp that always drowned out the others. It does not matter how many others vie for my attention, anxious to join me on car rides and hikes. Each interaction is cherished, but they are not Brianne.

Brianne, the epitome of female strength and assurance. Tolerant and wise mother, fierce protector, sane and reliable ambassador to children, uncanny in her ministrations of teeth or tongue as the situation warranted. Brianne, largest of my girls, who I presciently brought along on an emergency trip to the vet clinic together with a kennel mate who ended up needing a transfusion...without hesitation she hopped calmly on the exam table, and in response to my request she raised her head for the vet to find her jugular, never flinching as a brilliant crimson stream pulsed into a bottle. She did not question, had no expectation of reward. She trusted me, sure that no harm would befall her in complying with my direction. Her zest for living was transcendent, buoying up anyone with whom she had interactions, and in her kennel mate's case, literally life-saving.

And as that zest subsided over the past year I procrastinated, making a false trip to the vet months ago, bringing her back home with the stubborn rationalization that the spark in her eye and her alertness justified the indignities of her condition. Finally, though, even a practiced procrastinator could no longer postpone the decision I hoped would not be mine. Her bark, once a roar, was a bare whisper. She who would play tug and fetch all day couldn't even help me help her outside. She felt shame over loss of body function, in spite of my attempts to assure her. And true to her character, ultimately it was she who would assure me. Lying once again on the exam table, this time after being stretchered in, those clear, all-knowing eyes never wavered from mine as the vet found a vein in her hind leg, and while every fiber of my being screamed there's more time, she bathed my chin and cheeks in moist velvet, a caress of love and trust of which I shall ever aspire to be worthy.

Brianne's legacy may, finally, be my key to letting go of the past. Living here and now, aware that there is never more time, there is only this time. And living it, as she always did, to the full measure of each moment. Beim Spielen sein, my friend Brianne.