Asher

I rarely post about personal issues, but last week, my very elderly dog, Asher, died.  He lived a good dog life; he was 17 years old, with 16 of those years as a part of our family.  Asher’s been old for a long time.  At the beginning of summer 2017, I thought he wouldn’t survive the summer.  Not only did he survive, but he lived to see autumn, winter, and spring, and lumbered through this summer.  Asher had a strong–and big–heart, but he’d been declining and required a great deal of care.  We were privileged to provide that care, but on Friday two weeks ago, he could no longer stand and his appetite waned.

He crumbled.  Asher weakened beyond our ability help and it was time to ease his end.

Asher was a favorite in the neighborhood.  On his last day, a steady stream of neighbors stopped by to say goodbye and to pet his soft head.  Since his death, texts, emails, phone calls have delivered condolences.

His life was worthy not only because of who he was–gentle natured and pure in ability to love, and as a younger dog, goofy in demeanor, but also because of his role as an important tether in our family.  My daughter and I found him in 2002 when we were volunteers at our local shelter, where, every Sunday, we walked and played with abandoned dogs.  Shoshana  loved animals and science, and wanted to become a veterinarian.

Shoshana died in 2006, suddenly and of natural causes, leaving our family forever altered.

We survived: parents who buried a child and the younger brother who grew up alone.

But, we had Asher.  Asher was a balm for our broken hearts.  A sensitive soul, he seemingly understood our pain, sitting quietly to keep us company when need be.  Or, when the mood struck, ready to play and unleash his silly side–and silly was a big part of Asher.

Always, he lightened our load.  He’s the last of our pets who knew Shoshana and experienced our intact family.

The vet and vet tech came to our house.  Both young women were kind and compassionate.  They listened to us, and talked to and petted Asher.

His death was peaceful.

I roll my eyes at references to crossing over the rainbow bridge and I detest bad pet poetry, but I like this Irving Townsend quote:

We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle; easily and often breached.  Unable to accept its awful gaps, we would still live no other way.  We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan. 

 

Asher.  His name is Hebrew for “happy” and our lovely–and deeply loved–friend was aptly named, both in who he was, and what he gifted.

34 thoughts on “Asher

  1. So sorry for the loss of Asher and what he meant to you. Reading your piece brought back memories of my own, too. I found that making a scrapbook with photos and thoughts about my pets helped a lot. You are a very good writer, Tina, and I love your articles.

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    • Thank you, Robin. Your scrapbook is a nice idea. I’ve found myself looking at the photos I have of Asher. I have more of him as an older dog, which is simply because we were so busy when he was younger that we didn’t take photos. Still, I treasure what I have and certainly, that’s true of my recollections of him in our family.

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  2. That is a lovely quote. I am so sorry for the loss of your cherished pet. I lost my 7 year old dog to cancer this summer and I am still mourning her. The quote that I have been looking to in my grief is A.A. Milne: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” I have been trying to find gratitude in the time I was lucky enough to have with her despite my pain. I wish you the best. It sounds like you made Asher’s time on this earth beautiful and loving.

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    • Awe, I’m really sorry about your dog–that’s really tough. I like that Milne quote very much and it’s so true. I’m confident that Asher was happy with us and we were certainly happy with him–such a great dog.

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  3. My heart goes out to you, and I hope you find peace. Your post made me think of another blogger’s post I read a few years ago, and go back to on occasion because it resonates so deeply. The author also was mourning the loss of a pet that connected her to a lost loved one; perhaps reading it will comfort you as it did me: http://allmylooseends.com/2014/03/lights-wink/.

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    • Thank you, Maggie. Thank you so much for the link to that wonderful post: it really did resonate with me, with both laughter and some tears–it’s really lovely.

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  4. Thanks, Tina, for the wonderful post — sad, but also neat to read that Asher and your family had a great long life together. And a good reminder to enjoy our dog-pals while we can … they always leave too soon!

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    • Thanks, Hollis. Yes, Asher had a great life with us and was certainly a major part of our family. And you’re right–appreciate your loved ones while they’re here.

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    • Thank you. He really was a beautiful dog. That photo is about 5 years old, so he was much greyer in his later years. His coat was quite soft and lush, and there was all that fur to brush. But we enjoyed that time together.

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  5. I read this last night and was surprised by how quickly the tears came — both for you, and your losses, and also for my Dixie Rose. I’m glad Asher was there for you when you needed solace, and that you were there for him in his time of need. It’s such a privilege to share life with a pet, and you clearly had a loving one.

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  6. I am so sorry you’ve had to experience this. I’ve been through this many times and it’s always hard. We love our animals so much. They are absolutely family. What a lucky guy he was to have spent his life with you.

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    • Thanks, Tammy. Yes, it’s not our first either. I think it’s why I like that quote so much. We know that, in all liklihood that these little critters, who we love so much, will die before us. We know the grief we’ll have and yet we choose life.

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    • Thank you, Dottie. Aaron’s reaction was an interesting one. He now lives in Amman, Jordan, but on Asher’s last day, he called and we had a video chat so that he could see Asher. Sniff.

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  7. Tina, I really feel Asher’s death. He was one of the family. But he is still with you in your heart forever. Be strong Tina. Asher would not like you to get wrong. Asher still loves you from the sky of animals. It was the bond of union with your daughter Shoshana: she is in heaven taking care of you. My mother also lost her 29-year-old son and I to my older brother and the Rufo who was the dog that was the bond of union passed away to a better life. Then came Anton, who had to sacrifice with 11 years last year on February 2 and was my brother with hair. All my dogs and cats have been my hair brothers and for my parents their children. And all of them are still alive inside my heart and I will never forget them. It has a lot of encouragement from me. For whatever you want, you have me. Greetings from Margarita.

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    • I think you’re right–we bring our loved ones, animals a people alike, with us in memory and heart. Thank you for your condolences–I appreciated it, Margarita.

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  8. Oh gosh, Tina – I just teared up – and not just for Asher… What a moving story, and what a wonderful dog! Healing hugs to you, friend. And, I agree – that quote is wonderful. It hurts like hell when they leave, but I still wouldn’t want to be without my pets.

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