So much of our happiness is tied in knots that reside outside of us
In other hearts
It is difficult to quantify how much love is held in another chest
My ears stretch to hear what is not present anymore
My eyes search without reward
I want to feel the warmth of your body lying beside me
Your sin was your shadow self
I have my own
I knew you were a hunting dog
And yet so much more
You were soft, beneath your chin
And you had no idea of your size and strength when you wanted to snuggle in on my lap
You loved me so much
That above all feels like a betrayal of you, of self
I couldn’t bargain for an extension
What you did was so brutal, yet as natural as taking a breath
bumping my hand for attention
You did no wrong
I’m sorry my friend
You were just doing a dog
And I had to be civilized
and do the human thing
Buried by a tree
is all of my joy
today, none lives in me
or if it does
I cannot find it
We cannot measure the weight
until its gone
and it is frightening my friend, frightening
how much of me
lived in your broad white chest
Grief is a coin tossed into a bottomless well
I don’t await the sound of it ceasing
from experience I know it never decreases
it just keeps spinning and turning, out of sight
in the dark
Occasionally, I check my pocket
There is an endless supply, so I keep tossing
Trying to relieve the weight
and the sound of hollow clinking
in my chest
It will not rest
but eventually it will fall to a depth
where I can breathe again
*Dogs, no more dogs. They steal so much more joy when they die than they bring in life. The equation makes no emotional sense. If I’m honest, it never has, I just didn’t get it before. Last night I went through them all in my head, my dogs who have been companions, their names bracketed in years that we lived together, what each taught me and what those years grew in terms of personal maturity. So much, but even the gift of those lessons is not enough.
Yesterday I lost my one with a massive chest, part Dane, part Mastiff. He would lean his head into my shoulder and collapse with a sigh beside me, on me. He had no idea of his size. He loved me so much, his eyes would follow everything I did. Ridiculous. I have no idea what I did to deserve that care, it seemed such a colossal imbalanced return for morning walks, a soft bed, tummy scratches and snacks. But all that collateral in my emotional bank, all that staggering amount of love, was withdrawn in one big hit. He was a hunting dog, and after years of lounging on my kitchen mat, I had forgotten it.
Autumn weather and a couple of easy targets in the poddy calves over the back fence reminded me brutally.
I have made reparations to the owners. Paid our dues emotionally, internally and outside financially for their loss. Done the responsible thing. The guilt and the shame of what my animal did to their animals, live alongside the love and the loss I feel at having to do that. I don’t feel entitled to be sad. But I am. Deeply so. The body is like that – instinctual, honest – like a dog.
Ultimately, my dog was my responsibility; the wrong was mine. But we don’t shoot ourselves; we reimburse people financially and shoot the offender so it doesn’t happen again. What a shitty system – not worth the emotional cost, the risk. I’m certainly not doing it again.
No more dogs.
But I still have one.
This last small brown dog. Nine years old, she sleeps at my feet. She rolls her eyes and grins when she laughs. She possesses more character and humour than most humans and greets me with stupid amounts of happiness, even if I have only been out of sight for a moment. When she goes, I will suffer dreadfully, then no more—leastways, not about dogs. Other than this residue of regrets.
We have losses in life. It is, as I said, genuinely frightening how much of ourselves we give away to other people, but dogs – dogs we can’t help it, there is no barrier, no fence – it just escapes into their beautiful chests. And we don’t know how much is tied up in them until they are gone and that loss is turned into an ache. All that love, is just coins in the air that we toss.
Bodhi, my little one, is still teaching me. This morning, despite losing her best mate in traumatic circumstances which she witnessed as well. Requiring me to march through paddocks to retrieve her yesterday. Followed me with great love and trust, out the gate this morning, down the road, sniffing at the morning smells. Lost in the moment.
Does she carry any sad weight or burden? Well, it doesn’t seem to be so. She is walking on a new day—a new moment. She moves on lightly, leaving the past in the past where it belongs. I will have to get her to teach me how to do this before she goes. That would be a lesson worth the risk of loving so deeply. If only I could learn that trick. That would be worth her loss if she could teach me that; it would be the penultimate lesson of dog wisdom. They’ve taught me nearly everything else. How to love, certainly – how to let go of love – not so much.
The blog continues, and I wanted to write a post to say sorry to my friend for his horrid end but also a thank you for his love. To place a marker here in the ether. I can’t tell the lady who texts me about how devastated her kids are at the loss of their poddy calves that he was a good dog, and I will forever miss him. Instead, I have to promise that at least it won’t happen again, that the offender is dead. And I will pay for the vet. My front stairs are empty of his weight, and I can’t step around the facts. But I can put it here, which will close the chapter for me. Because, like Bodhi, I’m hoping to learn how she leaves it in the past and go walking on another day, like it is brand new and fresh.
I can’t do it yet. But I’ll get there.
Header photo: AI art generated from a heartfelt prompt and it makes sense – to me it makes sense anyway. Apart from the monkey, I have never had a monkey, but I’ve had some mischievous dogs. Maybe that is it.
27 thoughts on “Tossing coins”
Heartbreaking read ❤️
Sorry. I didn’t want to throw a storm on anyone’s day, it was a marker I had to place in order to move on. Writing and not just writing but sharing really helps. Thanks for reading Monty ❤️
Oh man, thats just a horrible to go through. At least you did all the right things to put it right.
All we could do because there was nothing which could be undone. It was horrible. Thanks.
How incredibly tragic. Sorry you had to go through this.
Thanks Tracy ❤️
No sorry needed 🙏 good to write it out. Totally agree.
I’m so sorry, what a sad situation all around. You said it right, you had to do human. But heart wrenching. Be kind to yourself.
Thanks Martha, doing human so often feels like the wrong thing. It’s confusing for us, no wonder a dog gets it wrong.
Oh my friend.
I am SO sad for you.
When Jasmine passed away I cried for two days.
The pain was incredible.
I have never cried like that for a human.
Thanks Granny, that is exactly it – unconditional love X
it is sad to lose a dog; my labrador, Chloe, had stomach cancer; inoperable at her age; 13 years; she had to be euthanised; I sat with her, holding a paw, rubbing her head, as she gently passed away
They are beautiful souls John. She would have been comforted to have you there.
Sorry to learn of this difficult situation you’ve experienced. 💔 Hopefully writing about the situation is helping with your healing. 🌻
Writing always helps, it digs out the sharp things, thanks Michelle
Wonderful! ✍🏼✨ You are welcome.
Words seem inadequate. I am so sorry for the tragic loss of your beloved dog. 💔🙏
Thank you ❤️
Oh, Kate, I am so sorry to read that you lost your dear dog and close companion in this way and that you are in so much emotional pain. How tragic. Your account is totally heartbreaking 💔 – I can only imagine how lost you must feel. I’ve never had a dog, but I have friends who do, so I’m aware of how much love and meaning they have for them. I hope that your writing here has helped you, even if only a tiny bit. The journey to healing is often a long one, but I hope you will, before too long, begin to come to terms with the trauma you are going through. I send you love, wishes for comfort and healing, and an affectionate hug. Xx 💓
Thanks Ellie ❤️
Saddened about the way you’ve lost your Dane-Mastiff companion <3
Thanks Rosaliene ❤️
Loving an animal is unique, and so is losing one. My condolences and prayers for remembered joy, Kate.
Thanks Mitch what a lovely way to say that “remembered joy” ❤️
May healing be yours. My heartfelt condolences at your bereavement
My heartfelt condolences, Kate. Your above sentiments have evoked decades-ago memories of my 9-year-old Lab mix; the veterinarian’s no chances for recovery prognosis; how, shortly thereafter, while sitting on the dimly lit living room floor, my perceptive pooch had sensed my consequent, overwhelming sorrow; so much so, that he wandered over to keep me company. With my left arm reflexively turning into a hug, I could not help but consider the unconditional, undying love and loyalty (not to mention the irony). After all, he was the one whose days were rapidly winding down, yet, lo and behold, he was still trying his very best to cheer me up.
They are such beautiful souls Tom.