She’s actually doing good these days; her fur still golden in the sunlight, except for that spot the doctor shaved off due to an infection. The old girl tires today as the sun beats down the earth with the heat of two suns. Its so strange to see her so slow these days, because all throughout her life it was like puppyhood never left her. She still has that mischief built in her nature, running and jumping, chasing after cats, balls, hoops, any circular object really, and she still poops on our neighbor’s lawn, sparking a nasty dispute between neighbor, dad and I. She constantly tries to come into the house where she’s not allowed and every time dad sees her, he growls at her.
A fly buzzes across us, and Coskee’s ear twitches. I’m holding the hairdryer and comb in one hand, searching her fur for ticks and lice, crushing any offending menace into a bloody squirt.
Coskee lies there like a log.
“Coskee…” I say a second time, as if she would give a reply. She wags her tail this time, and whether or not it was something, I took that as affirmation.
“Thank you for being my dog…”
“Thank you for being my dog for twelve years and counting now…”
Crazy girl talking to her dog. Coskee stirred around, repositioning her head, her front paws, then repositioning her head to the other side again.
“… if you’re going, don’t go okay?” I search for her eyes because I mean it.
Coskee blinks twice slowly, about to fall asleep in this lazy heat.
The first time the doctor told me what was wrong, I couldn’t process it. Then I looked at the X-ray, seeing half her lung swallowed by disease, while the doctor explained a whole bunch of things, jargon to me. It struck me suddenly, everything did- Guilt, heartache, sadness, then I fought back tears. How embarrassing, a grown woman now, feeling very much like that eight year old girl that lost her first pet.
When the doctor finished explaining everything to me, I asked her where you were and how you were doing. The doctor’s help went in to check, came back, and said “very happy… wagging tail…” and I realized comfort. It is how I will always remember you and how I want to always remember you.
I told myself that if a day comes where I find myself having to make the most difficult decision of my life, my deciding factor would be, as long as your tail is still wagging, the needle will not be an option. All throughout the X-ray session, the doctor praised you, commenting about how good-natured you were. I agree. You came out of the door, happy to see me as always, oblivious as always, and still having that powerful tail-wag thudding against my knee.
Life was good and simple the day you came. I was ten, we played forever. Then life happened, fights with the family, boyfriends, breakups, friendship troubles, more anger, and suddenly simple wasn’t simple anymore. There was never any time, and so many times we ignored you, locked you up, tied you up, shouted at you…
” Coskee forgive me not?” I asked.
There had been so many times through the years where I would talk to Coskee, wondering if she heard me, or if dogs even understood. But this time, I hoped against all hope that it was true. It was something mom said that day that prompted this whole conversation, “ Just tell her, she understands wan…”
So I hope you know that, when you go, I will miss you. I will miss someone meeting me at the gate at the end of every day as I came home, I would miss how you always get excited for us. When we’re happy, you get happy for us, when we’re sad, you grieved with us. You are great company Tee Coskee. Thank you for teaching us how to live, how to enjoy the day by sunbathing and rolling around in the dirt with all fours in the air. To stop and sniff grass, leaves, flowers, trees. To not take yourself too seriously, and to stop fruitlessly chasing our own tails.
“Coskee… I love you…”
More silence as I continue to comb through her mane.
When I was done and packed away the things, Coskee stood up as I did. She rubbed her body around my legs like how cats do, and licked my knee. Her tail still wagging.