dog story

I had a very small adventure a few weeks ago. I still don’t understand it, but I thought about it for days… it is from my journal:

Yesterday, I see cars stop outside my windows….side street side. I see people get out of their cars. I see them pick up a small dog. I hear them talking. I watch them walk to my front door. 

Is this your dog?

No. We talk about whose neighbors’ it might be. It is a small, red brown dachshund. I hear myself tell them that if they can’t find the owner, I’ll put her in the back. They can’t find the owner, and before I know it, I have her in my arms and take her to the back. I find a rug. I make a bed. I get  water. She’s just a sidelight in a busy day. I close off the garage so she can’t get inside it, so I don’t run over her or she doesn’t run away. She never barks a sound. She lies on the rug like a tired, good girl.
I go off to write and then buy her some food. I call my husband to tell him. He grills me about what I am going to do.  I’ll put up signs. She’s so docile she must have owners. I come home, give her food. She is still on her rug. I make signs, put them in a big circle around the house on busy streets. I take off again. She is now on the deck. I realize she is elderly. She is saggy baggy in a certain feminine area and her nipples show….so she has been a mama. She doesn’t greet me, but I pat her and tell her we will find her master beginning tomorrow.
When I come home late, I see her lying on the back door step, stretched out, relaxed and at her ease. The light from inside the house washes over her, and I am moved. I think about how she must miss her home. At the door, I reach down to pat her again, and I realize she is dead…………………………………
What does it mean? What if I had ignored the people walking to my door? That thought did cross my mind. I reverberate with her small passing for days, her tiny place in the space of my life, a little moment I rushed through. I talk about it with friends. I don’t understand. I think about Tennessee Williams’ line, I depend on the kindness of strangers. I think about the motto that was so popular a few years ago, practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty. Someone mentions my mother, who in her Alzheimer’s, is as dependent as that little dog. Is that the reverberation? I don’t know.
Do you? But practicing random kindness and senseless acts of beauty seems like a good way to love. I meant to write the word live just now but love came out. I’ll leave it. It’s somehow part of this little dog story.

12 responses to “dog story

  1. What a bittersweet memory you will always have of this little dog, for whom you provided precisely the kind of departure she would have wanted. Fed, watered, shaded, cared for and allowed to go at her own pace. We should all be so lucky when the time comes – as it does.

  2. My grandmother would say that an angel sent that dog to you so she could spend her last days in safety.

  3. Yes, this is a very touching story. I am so happy for you that you took her in and gave her shelter. She found love and hope in you. You have given us all a very choice time in your life…you did a good thing.

  4. As you probably know from reading some of my other comments, I am an animal lover. I admire those who put themselves out to help an animal in trouble. I do it all of the time and don’t understand those who turn their backs on an animal in need. I think God smiles upon those of us who demonstrate true kindness because helping an animal is just that, honest , pure and unselfish kindness. No biblical rewards attached to it. Just doing the right thing, helping another life.
    Karleen, I love how you stepped up and took responsibility and also so saddened by this little dog’s death. You did the good and kind thing. You gave her a place she could die in peace. Bless you and all others like you.

  5. It gave me goosebumps J

    Thank you for sharing the lense you look at the world through

  6. I love this post so much. You as the kind stranger that the little dog found to accompany her death. We all wonder about that moment. who will be with us? who do we want to be with us? the answers to those two questions shift over the years as I ask them again and again.

    It is lovely and often true that dogs, if they can, go off, away from their owners to die. Why is this? For peace? To not worry the hand that has fed them?

    To me it speaks of that enormous trust in God. To let go. And there will be help.

    Dunya Dianne McPherson 212-226-2114

    “I have chained my every dancing atom into a divine seat in the Beloved’s Tavern.”

  7. Beautiful story, Karleen – in the living and in the telling. Gave me that deep “aah” at the end – happiness and sadness at the same time.

    Feels like a wonderful reminder to slow down and continue to live in the moment, soaking in the beauty of our connection with life.

    I just went and saw “The Artist is Present” – (documentary about Marina Abramovic) at MFAH last night – her MOMA piece was all about making space and time for connection – beautiful – thanks for continuing the presence.

  8. Carol Gartsman

    Enjoyed your great descriptions and sweet story. Sometimes animals have a lucky day too. Finding you and your blog was a really lucky day for me too.

  9. What a moving story! Put tears in my eyes (not only because I’m a dog lover). Karleen, I honestly believe that every single bit of energy we put “out there”- whether good or bad- makes a difference. Nothing is trivial. You made that sweet dog’s last moments peaceful ones, and she felt that somebody cared and had some love for her. Maybe it was “behind the scenes” but that doesn’t take away from its importance. Thank you for what you did to help.

  10. What a beautiful story. So glad you were there to be an angel to that dog.

  11. Thirty-three years ago, I was driving down a lonely West Texas highway and veered around a dead white kitten. When I looked in my rearview mirror, the kitten raised its head from the asphalt. I made a U-turn and retrieved it. The cat made breathy death rattle noises and was dead before I got home. I felt like you do. What was the meaning of it? She still haunts me thirty-three years later.

  12. I loved this story,it reminds me a little of a phone call from a lady who is house sitting for me at a house I have been at for two weeks. She called and said what do I do about this skinny cat that keeps showing up at the front door? I said could you just bring him to the front room and let him stay for just a bit then put him back outside he just needs a little love each day
    I feel the visits are perhaps what may be the one thing he looks forward to the entire day.

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