Life Without Dogs

How can you not love a dog like this? Even if she is a shedding machine.

Aspen with her “baby” Dallas.

In a stunning bit of life, my other dog passed away. Her decline was so sudden and her pain so intense, the decision was easy. The aftermath- not so much.

Aspen came to us as Crystal. The story is we had gone to an “animal fair” just to see the animals. Though there would be many adoption agencies there, WE WERE NOT GETTING A NEW ANIMAL.

Before I even have the kids out of the car, I exclaim, “Oh look at that white one!” And Crystal became Aspen.

She was shy when we met her, but in our home, it was clear something very wrong and terrible had been done to this dog. Her fears were too great, too numerous. Bells, whistles, cars, other dogs barking, men, the list went on and on. We knew she had been starved, but it was clear to me that whatever her life had been before us was beyond neglect, someone had intentionally harmed this dog.

And yet.

She still loved. She didn’t give up. And it took a long time, but she seemed to put a lot behind her. And she blossomed into a great dog. When Little Sir came along, she was as close to a nanny as I got. I trusted her to help me round him up. She found him too exuberant at times and would just move to a safe distance.

I didn’t see her do it, but I know she killed a skunk in our backyard. It was near the deck so I’m pretty sure she kept it from getting in the house.The funniest thing happened when she and my other dog, Stockton, took off. Aspen came home with purple stripes and smelling like marijuana.

I have no idea where she went, but it was eventful and fragrant there.

Her peaceful nature and beauty soothed even those who didn’t like dogs. My Grandma who really only likes little dogs, loved Aspen. She often told me I could leave her there. Another friend of mine who did not really like any dogs, would stroke Aspen’s soft white head. Aspen pretty much raised our kitten Dallas. You know those stories of animals that soothe the crazy horse or the damaged Veteran? That could have been Aspen.

There was something in her wounded spirit- or the healing she had found- that just quieted you. Gentled you.

The happiest I ever saw Aspen was at the beach. It just seemed as though the wonderfulness of the waves, sand, and all those dog-mazing scents took over and she left every bit of trauma behind her. It was a beautiful sight.

So now, I don’t have a dog. It’s the first time in many years. It’s so strange. All these habits and routines that no longer apply because I don’t have a dog. No dog bed, no reason to keep the cat food up high, no dog hair, no dog to greet, no dog to take care of leftovers.

I stayed with Aspen to the end. I had to because I would not let her leave this world alone or afraid. She had had enough of that in her life. And I had to because I knew she would do the same for me.