Dulcie on the back patio while I write.Dulcie on the back patio while I write.

I held your head in my lap and wept, unafraid to beg you not to go. Not yet. You couldn’t. It was undeniable how scared you were, afraid of how your body was failing you and all the things you couldn’t do. When Owen stroked you with tears in his eyes, he asked me how long you had, and I didn’t know. How could I know this was it? All I knew was how scared you were, and the pain I could feel in your eyes. Your hips had been hurting for months, and I swore you were just scared they weren’t working for you like they used to, that you fell and needed time to get back up.

Then I saw the dark cloud roll in through your eyes, and your breathing grew pained. I begged you to wait, to stay, and not let go just yet. I feared you had weeks, wished you had months, never knew it was just days. If you could just hold on and your mom would be home, she could tell you goodbye and how much she loves you. As always in a pinch, I’ll have to do, and I held you tight and begged you not to go.

When your brother went, we knew it was coming, that he’d had his fill and made his decision. The pain was too much and he couldn’t fight anymore, but just today you ran to me with your tail wagging. How was I supposed to know that was all you had left? That those contemplative moments in the garden were a farewell tour from the queen of her domain, going for one last round to bask in whatever sun today could bring. 

Through every new journey, you were there and more. You came to us after we bought this house, wore your mom’s veil on our wedding night, saw us bring new lives into the world that you would always protect, helped me say goodbye to my dear boy Ichi, and became my favorite hiking companion I could ever ask for.

I’m trying to remind myself that these last few years we included you in everything we could. From road trips to camping to hikes, walks around the neighborhood and treks to the park. But I still can’t fathom how much more you deserved, and how much I’m going to miss your companionship even when you’d whine and cry at us in bed every night so I’d get up and find you a treat of some sort before you’d turn in.

Throughout my entire career, there’s only one book you weren’t deeply involved with, and although I know you loved your mama the most, I can’t really blame you. I still remember buying you that pretty new collar that I just held in my hands a few moments ago, the one we took off when they took you away, and how you shredded it up on a cactus on a hike almost the very first day. You didn’t care, you were just happy to be with us. Each successive jump you couldn’t make broke my heart more, knowing the once-proud and once-strong girl wouldn’t be the same forever.

I really just hope you knew how much you were loved, what you meant to us, and when you crossed over into the unknown, you did so knowing how special you always were to us and that we’ll never forget you.

4 thoughts on “To My Missing Dulce, on the Night of Your Departure”
  1. Ah shit, man.

    So sorry. I applaud you for being there at her passing into The Next. So many people avoid it. You didn’t. She was part of you and knew it and felt that love.

  2. I am sorry for your pain. I haves oened and flustered dugs for over 60 years. I cry over them all. Some died hard deaths. That hurts in places I try not to let them touch. But a mom can only do so much. I would save them all if I could, but I can’t save the truly dangerous ones. I can’t save the ones who needed medicine they were denied or the ones who had broken bones and damaged hearts that would not heal. I think the good days and the dogs I can actually save make it all worthwhile.

    If you would like a senior dog—an estate leftover or family surrender— instead of a vacation, please foster or adopt one. They are going sideways on the streets and in shelter kennels. They need you.

    1. Yeah, we’ll have another dog at some point.
      I’ve only ever had shelter dogs, and Dulce was one of ’em. She was a mess when we got her, just a big ball of anxiety and sadness. I’m just glad we got a great eleven years with her and got to give her a better life than she had before (she was seized by the city from her previous owner, who had 8 dogs locked up in a small enclosure and she was the runt of them).

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