This is what I wrote when the family's dog passed on:
Snow Fall For a Puppy
My mother had this little old dog we all called BJ. As it turns out, BJ actually does stand for something, and I knew what it was once upon a time. He was a white and black poodle mutt who had two modes of living. He had puppy mode and old dog mode. The last time I saw him he was in puppy mode, leaping up off his aching hind lets to snatch the Milk Bone from my fingers. He was partially blind and ended up nipping my finger, too. It was adorable when you think about it.
One eye was completely blind, I’m sure. It didn’t look right with the pink outline and the milky glazed pupil. I alluded that his hind legs didn’t seem to work right. He could barely support himself on them sometimes, and it was a struggle to watch him when all he wanted to do was lie down. There was no doubt BJ was not long for this earth.
And so it was my mother and I began our little debate; and it would seem that I won, albeit in hollow fashion.
Mom wanted to put BJ to “sleep.” It was easy to understand why. The animal had begun to lose control of his bodily functions and was often soiling the carpet. And watching his misery when he was in Old Dog mode was never easy.
I just kept thinking he could have one more summer of puppy mode. I was sure the warm weather would ease the ache in his old bones. One more warm season to frolic and play. And it seemed I was right. The snow was melting more every day. The plastic had come off the windows. I was always being seduced into leaving my winter jacket inside. The Gregorian beginning of spring was only three days away! I had held back the merciful putting to sleep. He was going to make it to spring when the warm weather would be kinder to his aches and pains. He was going to make it!
But he didn’t. He died that Sunday of St. Patrick’s.
On Monday it began to snow the likes of which I didn’t expect to see again this year. Yesterday was Tuesday and it didn’t snow. But today is Wednesday, March 20. It’s snowing, again.
On the first day of Spring.
“It’s funny how animals know when it’s their time.” a dear friend said to me. As though God or Goddess sent the Angel of Death upon BJ before the harsh snow came; divining that his puppy days of Spring would never be. BJ was spared a longer winter.
But now I think that that’s backwards. Winter isn’t so bad. The snow is beautiful when your bones don’t ache, when you’re a puppy.
Maybe, in some poetic way difficult to explain yet easy to understand, the perfect way to honor a dog who had puppy legs on his very last day is to lay a divine bouquet of fresh fallen snow on his grave … so that his puppy spirit can enjoy and frolic in the magic of snow while he’s still close to Earth.
How can I really say? There doesn’t need to be a reason for snow. OR if there does … couldn’t there be a more important reason?
If there’s not … it’s easy to imagine a lot of people getting irritated with me for this snow (serves them right for leaving their puppy legs somewhere). After all, I could have put the little fellow to sleep and spared us a mini-winter when days before we were all ready for spring flowers to begin popping up. We were ready to hear the Black Capped Chickadee heralding it’s truth that spring is coming.
Of course instead of shame for bringing this snow, I could get a more heady feeling. I could go out to the Black Bear Pub tonight. After ordering my beer, I’d elbow the guy next to me and tell him, “Hey … this snow we got out there … it’s all my doing.” Ah, yes. The power.
~I think the psychologist call this, “Delusions of Grandeur.”~
Somehow, though, Life and Nature and Death and the Endless cycle Religions the world over try make sense of ………… it all suddenly makes sense out of itself.
I freely admit this sensation of neatly fitting in the final piece of Life’s great jig saw puzzle may only be imagination and romance. Nevertheless, I’m looking at the snow fall outside right now. I can’t see where BJ is buried … and can barely see the Satellite Dish or anything else.
I can’t help but smile. It’s snowing ….. And I know of a puppy who’s frolicking.