One week ago I lost Storm. For the first time in 9 years there was no dog in the house.
No reason to go downstairs on waking.
No reason to take a break mid-morning to go walk.
No reason to take an afternoon break for a longer walk.
I remember that in 2007 I was at the second Automattic meetup (at Stinson Beach) and I’d done a certain amount of work and said that if I was at home I’d take the dog – then just Winston – for a walk. Matt said we should take a walk along the beach which we did. We chatted about Akismet.
Every day I have had a reason to get up and go for a walk. Peace. Quiet. Slow. Thinking time.
I felt okay just sauntering along with the dogs – or just a dog – through the village. But doing the same without them? It feels strange. Not just that they are not there but as others perceive me. In the dusk/darkness a guy with a dog means people pass closer than if you are just a guy wandering along.
Years ago as I was crossing a bridge with Winston I met a guy who stopped, fussed Winston and stood and chatted. He explained that for years he had walked his dog this route and he’d just lost his dog. But he couldn’t stop that walking. It was habit. It was comforting. I know that now. I wish I did not.
We went for a walk tonight. The fog was pretty thick, visibility was lampost to lampost but hey, we’d done this for years. I held Storm’s collar as I walked, talked to him as we passed the places he would always stop and praised him when a car went past with too much noise. And I cried.
I miss him.
Had a dog? You know what I mean.
Not had one? You don’t know.
The last thing he felt was me hugging him.
The last thing he heard was me telling him I loved him.
Storm died a little while ago.
Storm is now on the last medication that can help him. He’s been back to the specialists. Thing is that what he has cannot be cured. He cannot ever again run and jump for a tennis ball, come for a walk around the village with me, try to catch snowballs. We are so very close to that point where we have to consider his quality of life, if we would be keeping him alive for us rather than him. He doesn’t even come upstairs now – and he would more often than not come and sleep on the floor next to my side of the bed. He hasn’t walked more than 100 yards at once, he is not eating. And yet he wags his tail every time I go to stroke him, talk to him. And he is only 3.
Storm has a very enlarged heart. The valves are all damaged. He is in heart failure. There is no cure. He has been prescribed medication.
In 3-4 months he has gone from a bouncy energetic beast to a dog way older than he should be. He’s only 3. He should be running around fields, enjoying long walks. But he is not interested in food and has lost so much weight. I don’t know what else to say.
A few weeks ago he fell ill and we took him to the vet. They diagnosed pancreatitis and kept him at the surgery.. While there he was diagnosed with Canine DIC which can kill. They fixed him. But he stayed unwell, head down, losing weight – just not the bouncy dog he had been. I took him back to the vet a couple of days ago. His heart is all over the place – atrial fibrillation. Tomorrow he goes to a specialist place in Coventry. I really hope they can help.
There’s a field close by where I have taken the dogs – first Winston, then Storm as well – for walks for years. It’s a long field with a treeline, then more field extending right and a wide stream across which are more large fields. Sometimes there are horses in there and as one is quite aggressive if the horses are this side of the stream we don’t go in, or if we get to the treeline and see the horses then we leave.
A combination of events that since Winston died we had not been down and to the right past the treeline. It’s where both dogs could get down the bank and then paddle around in the water. Storm would try to grab little pebbles that I would throw in close to him.
Couple of days ago the weather was good, there were no horses so we went back there. I wandered toward the end of the field knowing that Storm would be following. I turned round at the end and looked back for him. There are two places where the dogs would head into the water and Storm was sat at the first one just looking across the stream. When I got to him there was nothing he was focusing on. He was just sat (which he never does when out – it’s either walk / run / jump / lie down) quietly looking. It felt like he was remembering Winston. We sat together for a few minutes before he decided it was time to go. He didn’t go in the water.