It has happened, finally. Mr Basil Diva Dog has gone across the proverbial Rainbow Bridge, where he no doubt is terribly chagrined to find his sister Ginger Puppy happily awaiting his arrival. His daddies called me on Friday afternoon to tell me.
If there was any passing that was least unexpected, it was Basil's. His daddies and I had already discussed what the protocol would be if Basil passed on my watch, and we had that conversation LAST year.
Last MONTH, his daddies called to tell me they were about 80 percent sure they were going to put Basil down the next day. His trip to the groomers had been so hard on Basil, and the groomer was recommending Basil be put to sleep. I shed more than a few tears at the news, even though Basil pretty much hated everyone except for his daddies, me included.
I just just been with Basil for a small tour of duty two weeks prior, and I had told Basil's daddies that while Basil was tottery, I didn't see anything that indicated his time was up. My judgement markers are twofold - is the dog in pain? Is the dog eating? Basil was still eating like a champ and didn't show any signs of pain, so in Amyland, that means he's fine. Older than any dog should be (16 years old), but fine.
Who knows if my opinion mattered at all, but Basil's daddies put off the decision the next day, and Basil had another month, which included another five days with me. And he was tottery, and shivering (because the groomer cut his fur really close. He looked skeletal with less fur, no wonder the groomer though he should be put down), and sometimes would need something to lean against while he ate (that would be me as his backer)
But I wrapped him in towels to stop the shivers, and carried him everywhere and kept a close eye on him, and that's when this picture was taken. Yes, I just used it two blogs ago. But it's notable as my last picture of him, and also notable because he looks positively snuggly next to me, doesn't he. Almost like he likes me.
Basil never liked me, and that's okay, because he really didn't like anyone. He was my first dogsitting client ever (2003) and he taught me how to love when the object of your love doesn't love you back (and isn't human to boot). It doesn't mean you stop being there for them, not even when they don't know who you are, when they don't really remember where they are.
The last time I saw Basil, I pretty much knew it would be the last time. It was the last night of my dogsitting gig with him, and I waited until his daddy came home, so I could show him Basil's new owies, acquired that evening when he scraped himself falling down. Basil rested against his daddy's chest, while his daddy and I chatted on the couch. Basil may not have remembered much (probably not even how he got his new owies) but he knew who his daddy was, and was so content to be sitting in his lap. I may have even seen a smile.
And that half smile on a dog's face, sitting in the lap of the only person he ever liked, that is the memory I will keep with me.
And his real name was Barley.