The first thing she did was bite me with those tiny daggers that are puppy teeth. It was also the second thing she did. And the third. For two weeks, I worried that I had chosen a vampire hound, an unmanageable frenzy of fur and fang. I was wrong. She was just teething and she wanted to sink her teeth into everything, whether that be me, my shoes, a rolling pin, the door mat, a surprised hedgehog, or more regular foodstuffs.

I am sure she thought that any food I was eating had been stolen from her bowl, as she clearly wanted it back. When I gave her some, she rejected it, leaving it on the floor before coming back to me, pleading for more of the stuff she'd just implied she didn't like.

Pavlovian, I experimented on a day I wasn't hungry. I kept giving her bits and she kept leaving them. This went on until all the food was gone. At that point, I realised I had been tricked. At the start of the meal, all the food was on my plate and it was my decision to eat any part of it or give any part of it to her. Somehow, she managed to get all the food onto the floor and now it was her food. She even reconfigured the purpose of some of it. She nudged it to my foot so that I could kick it for her and a game of fetch would begin. I was humbled. I'd never thought of it as anything other than food. My dog had a better imagination than me. And more food.

If her ball went under the furniture, she made an effort to reach it and usually pushed it further under. She was fully aware, at that juncture, that I was the most useful creature in her immediate environs because I, and I alone, could reach it.

If she yelped and squeaked and pranced on my lap and stared directly into my face enough, then I'd be sure to realise that I'd have more peace just by retrieving it for her. So I did. And then, of course, she'd tricked me again. How could I give her the ball back without it being construed as the start of a new game? I now know, and she had always known, that there wasn't a way.

I went along with it willingly for the very simple reason that I loved her. Even the fact that she played on my love was never an issue. It struck me that unconditional love should actually be very easy because everyone knows where they stand but, no matter how many people declare it, it only exists as a deal between humans and animals.

Maybe we have the definition wrong. We seem to think unconditional love means that I'll love you no matter what you do or what you want or what job I have or how I look or who else I sleep with or anything else that might act as a condition in the otherwise unconditional. Between animal and human the contract is "I'll love you. You'll love me". And it isn't even a contract because who needs a contract when something is unspoken and cannot ever be anything else but true?


I used to kiss her forehead when I left for work. On this day five years ago, after a lifetime of unconditional love, I found myself in a veterinarian's cold storage room kissing her forehead for the last time. I did it twice, so that what I had initially thought was the last time, wouldn't be.

A few weeks after she died, I found her toy trapped under the sofa and was temporarily paralysed. Rescuing it would have meant the beginning of a game, but its very existence was a reminder that the game had ended forever, and I left it where it was. One time, when she was alive, she'd pushed it there. Her brow had furrowed in her frustration about being unable to retrieve it. One time it had been the centre of her attention. After she'd gone, it became a tiny memorial. Just a toy under a sofa. It's not much to say for an entire lifetime of making me happy.

Her lead is still in the drawer it was always in. Now it's accompanied by her collar. What do I do with them? I can't put them in the bin. I can't throw away that last physical link to her. They sit there and they upset me. It's not their fault. It's not hers. It's not the fault of anyone.

Celestial mechanics contrived to send her to me, the perfect owner for her, just as it contrived to send me the perfect dog. It was a once in a lifetime, for both of us. I don't know what law of nature gives one species a lifespan incomparable to another, but I struggle to abide the cruelty of it. I'm only glad that I'm the one without her, rather than her be without me, lost and alone.

The calendar may say five years, but it knows nothing about the nature of love and its persistence in time. It could just as well be yesterday or a million years hence; I will love her exactly the same.
GlassDog GlassDog
6 Responses Nov 8, 2015

I'm so sorry for your loss. Like losing one of the family

That was lovely.
I had a cat - yes a cat - who was my baby. She slept on my pillow every night, slapped my head when I tried to talk to my husband while she was trying to sleep, and curled against my pregnant belly while I grew my daughter within. I miss her every day. She played fetch (the cat not my child), she listened to my complain about work, and she tolerated my cuddles. I was there when she died, petting her and stroking her soft fur. I find her toys wedged between the furniture or under beds, and I just leave it too. I tell myself that our other cat will find it and play, but she rarely bothers with such toys. They fill our lives with love and affection, and we never forget our fur babies.

Great post

❤️ may she forever attempt to get the ball from under the sofa in doggy heaven, waiting for that day when you will be reunited and get it out for her when you meet her in the sky, til then your hearts will always be connected in that special way that neither life or death can take from you ☺️

Oh Glassdog I am so sorry ,, tears in my eyes here😿,,, I had a cat that I lost three years ago, she got me through what was already a very difficult time ,, to just look at her feeding bowl used to pull me apart yet I could not let it go,, I put a water fall in a part of my garden which had her ashes over and my part of her still ,,, hugs to you

I am very sorry for your loss. You described your love for her so perfectly. I wish you strength!