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.