Thursday, April 19, 2012
“He died that day because his body had served its purpose. His soul had done what it came to do, learned what it came to learn, and then was free to leave.”
― Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain
It’s a bear.
Quarter inch sticks snapping, clumsy and thrashing it sounded big and awkward and heading right at me.
It was a dry heat in mid-August; you eat lunch and it cooks in your stomach. We were spread out all across the beach, Al had his book and flotation, mom had her towel and dad was asleep. Just long enough to get nervous, the mind races—too big to be a rattlesnake, too small to be a bear, "holy shit, is it a cougar?" “what the hell is that noise?”
Fifty yards down the beach there is a sand ramp, it drops strait into Lake Roosevelt at about forty five degrees. Near the top of the ramp there is a short vertical face and on top of the face is a ledge, and on top of the ledge is Rusty—our dog.
He was doing the Supine-Golden-Retreiver-Backdance, signature move, upside down and legs poinging towards the sky.
Winter of 8th grade I decided to be a soccer player who wrestled, dislocated my right knee, and got pretty down on life; that Christmas I unwrapped one gift—it was a picture of a Golden Retriever.
Water ski boat camping was a summer tradition. Ski until your hands blister and fight off whatever obnoxious bug is in season for seven days.
I own one sleeping bag. It’s goose down; designed for cold and acts as saran wrap in the heat. The stars are close, a person feels like they can reach up and grab the Milky Way when they’re away from the city lights. But there it is again—some goddamn sound putting me on edge. This time it’s coming from the water.
Sturgeon can’t walk, I’m too tired to fight, out of my clammy bag and stumbling into the moonlight.
Rusty saunters out of the water, stands inches away, and shakes the lake onto my PJs.
It feels like life gets busy with pointless stuff as we get older. Dogs don’t care. Rusty was transparent of my families emotions. If a person has a reflexive version of themselves, it is most certainly their dog. At fifteen years, Rusty was a family member.
The collective put him down on Monday.
Don’t for a minute take it for granted.