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.