22 May 2014
From that walkabout back in October Whistler and I did to the ruins of the Illinois Mine, off the the 730 trail. And just last week he went on walkabout with me...
You'd never had known it, but we didn't always get along. Until four years ago, he was edgy and standoffish around me. My father would say he was my mother's dog, contrary and an overall pain in the ass. My mother would say he was my father's dog; aloof with a strong dislike of people.
"No wonder you two are such good friends!" The bruja said when I gave those descriptions, Whistler sitting companionably at my feet. Fucking woman.
After my mother died and my father decided to leave the Rub 'al Khali of the badlands of eastern Colorado, he began to get rid of all of the dogs. He'd parted with most of the kennel stock when my mother got sick, sick. Whistler and Chevy, the Grumpy Old Men, retired from their showing and herding days, were now the house dogs. The place my father was moving to did not allow dogs, and it fell to me to take them.
"I may be your way to life," I snarled at Whistler in a moment of jungle rules during that chaotic time of my father's move. "Show me some fucking respect!"
Chevy was brought up to the house first, then Whistler. He was still standoffish toward me until he saw Chevy, his three month younger half-brother, again. The way Whistler ran to him, it was like one of those syrupy bitch films where the couple crosses a beach to fall into one another's arms.
After that, we were as thick as thieves. Whistler, having some separation anxiety what with my parents leaving him in one form or fashion, was my canid shadow. Only the slow march of years would limit just how far he could follow me.
At first, it presented like IVS, the uneasy movements and the head-tilt. With that condition, you hide and wait for three days to see if the dog gets better. As the days passed, his condition worsened. Suddenly, his back legs stopped working. I wondered if it wasn't tick paralysis, but there were no ticks on him. Then, he turned down food.
It doesn't take a physic or someone who has been involved in the medical field to know what that meant...
The vet figured his something went wrong within his spine. That he'd been actively dying the last few days and it would be abject cruelty to keep him alive through the weekend. Whistler's mind was fully intact, but not his body. Were I to antropomorphise, one of the last looks he gave me was as if to say the number was up and it was time to say goodbye.
"Oh child of the noble family, Twist, listen, and be without distraction; you are about to enter the bardo. You may choose to be reborn, or you can choose to attain the ultimate liberation of enlightenment," was the Tibetan death prayer I whispered in his ear after he was give the hospice dose. "Om mani padme hum."
I used to figure when the time came, I'd have Whistler cremated and scattered his ashes across the many trails he walked with me. The time has come and Sabina and my daughter helped me bury him out back. I took his collar and a lock of fur and will leave them somewhere along the Bull's Head. That was last trail we walked together.
Because of his arthritis, I always figured Chevy would go first, not Whistler, who was so much more active. Chevy, arthritic and oblivious, lays at my feet. I wonder if he comprehends his brother is gone. My mother had Chevy trained as a therapy dog once upon a time. I wonder if he knows how therapeutic his presence at my feet is here and now.
Roger Clyne wrote this after scattering the ashes of his best friend...