Monday, August 11, 2008

The Homecoming

It's late, though not as late as it seems. We're finally home, the girls are in bed, the bags semi-unpacked, and here I sit, wondering if I am shaking because we've spent a long day in the car and I haven't eaten much since breakfast, or whether it's because my dog is dead and every tuft of hair that blows across the floor reminds me that we're not bringing him home tomorrow.

Hannah was of course terribly upset when we told her (I think one of the harder things Thomas has had to do), but now tells me not to be sad because "we can just get you another dog." She even suggests another Great Dane, the same color, "we'll even call him Argus!" But would just any other Great Dane be able to waggle his eyebrows at you, like Andy Rooney trying to tell a joke that might have been considered off-color 50 years ago? And would that eyebrow trick be as perfectly timed to the wagging of his tail (the dog's, not Andy's)?

I have hundreds of photos of Argus, but not one of them quite captures the expressions that were his alone, from the aforementioned eyebrows, to the guilty look when we caught him eating from the counter, to the apologetic when I pulled out the credit card to pay the vet for stomach pumping or induced vomiting to remove the foil or plastic that had been wrapped around whatever it was that he ate from the counter, or to pay for the multiple casts for his puppy-toes. (He also didn't mind my run-on, uber-tangential sentences, either. That or he never quite mastered the eye-roll.)

Because I still don’t quite believe he’s gone, I don’t know what I’ll miss the most. There was the way he hugged you, tucking your head under his chin and then shaking his head—always so much more gently with the girls. Or the way he used to put his face up to mine until our foreheads touched. Or that he knew that sometimes he could get away with sleeping on the bed when Thomas was traveling. The way he played soccer and Frisbee-block with Charlotte. Or how patient he always was with Hannah, letting her dress him in hats and tutus. That it would never occur to him to eat the chickens wandering around his backyard. Or that, after all this time, he would still bark at Thomas’s car because, no matter what anyone said, Argus was my dog (with the exception of the two months after Hannah was born when he wouldn’t even look at me). Or maybe just the peaceful, comfortable sound of him snoring on his bed in the corner.

And, of course there is also how ridiculously safe I felt with a dog who hated the rain, was terrified of thunderstorms, fireworks, the vacuum cleaner and chirping smoke detectors, and who couldn’t bear to be outside by himself for very long.

We’re home but to an emptier, colder, far less dog-y house. But, as Thomas reminds me, we’ll have at least another year with the dog hair.

So goodbye again, Puppy My Love. Thanks for teaching me how to love a dog and that a dog's love is unconditional. I wish you hadn't had to go. I wish we had been here when you did.


Donna said...

This is lovely tribute. Argus' "good habits" are alive and well in Hailey (lab) and Dillon(chessie). We'll have some counter surfing in his honor here this week.

tonya said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I remember when we lost my doggy girl like it was yesterday, and wish it could be easier. Thinking of you.

jenijen said...

oh, honey. i'm so sad for you.

Melanie K said...

Thanks, all of you. He was such a great dog.

Kerry said...

I gave Vegas some extra love this week.

Thinking of you each time I give him a hug and touch noses with him.

Hang in there. It gets a bit easier each day.

Spollace said...

wow...i haven't balled like this in awhile. So sorry babe. Much love.

gwendomama said...

aww shit. i am so sorry your home is dog-less.

sending lovies.

Janie Pronto said...

Melanie and Thomas, we are so very sorry for your loss. Take comfort in knowing that Argus is now at home with his dane family. Thank you for giving Argus the life that every dog deserves and the love of a great family. Your family is everything we look for for each and every one of our puppies. Only time will heal the loss and we hope that you will one day in the future have the love of a dane again in your lives. Take care. Mel and Janie Pronto, Nuttree Great Danes

Kristine said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.

I'm a friend of Janie P's...I saw Argus' litter in VA and I have his 1/2 sister Phoebe. Phoebe shares the eyebrow thing (smile). Your tribute for Argus is beautiful and inspiring.

Anyone who ever brings a Dane home and into their heart knows that we get them because we "want" a Great Dane. Eventually we learn that we *need* them because they make us better people.

Across the Rainbow Bridge, I hope Argus is playing with my Danes who've come and gone. I hope soon your heart will smile with Argus' gift of memories he left behind for you - those are yours forever.

Janus Great Danes

Melanie K said...

thanks, Janie and Kristine. you'll be happy to know that Hannah (oldest daughter) is already asking for another puppy. of course she might be disappointed that it will not--ever--be a tiny dog. :)

i can't imagine a dog other than a Dane.

Dan said...

Argus was a great dog. I will miss visiting with him before heading off for to play darts with your hubby.

I have a feeling our house will be going through this pretty soon as our dalmation is about to turn 13 and is slowing down significantly. I have been through the loss of pets before, but my kids and wife have not. I am sure it will be very difficult.

I never thought I would ever have a small dog, growing up with golden retrievers my whole life...but one day I fell in love with a little chihuahua in the window and the rest is history. I love both my big dog and my little dog.

Melanie K said...

Thanks Dan. And I know that I could love a chihuahua, or another small dog (even though I just had to cut and paste bc I can never remember how to spell "chihuahua"). But to me there is something so comfortable about a big dog that follows you around and leans--Danes are big on leaning on people--and something so adorable about a 150 pound dog who still thinks he's a lap dog.

Here's hoping your puppy lasts another year or so. As everyone has been telling me, just know you've provided a happy home and as much love as ever possible. And know that dogs are the best at seeing that.

Melanie K said...

@donna: i trust the counter surfing went well? :)

Melanie K said...

@Kerry give Vegas kisses from me--and AC too, of course. I love Vegas. Enough to say nothing about her head size ;)

Jonathan said...

Ah sh!$, you've gone and made me cry. I feel really bad for you and the fam. He was, indeed, a great dog. Even from my limited experience.