By Emily Achenbaum Harris
Posted: Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011
Emily Achenbaum Harris
Hi, I'm Emily and this is my blog about career-questioning, minimalism-seeking, gardening, earth-saving, pregnancy, parenthood, and my pathological ability to make the same mistakes over and over again. See more at littlehousesouthernprairie. wordpress.com.
Boris had been on medicine for congestive heart failure for the past month, when the seizures and rasping breaths started. The medicine didnt get him back to 100 percent, but it helped. This weekend, the medicine stopped helping. He was having seizures again, worse ones than before, and losing control of his legs, whimpering on our kitchen floor. He couldnt breathe. The vet did everything she could. We gave him chicken sausages the good stuff for humans, not the pet food kind and a ride in the car with all the windows down. And then we said goodbye.I feel compelled to say something about the power of companionship and love in unexpected places. My husband Erik is a doting pet person, but not a cutesy one. I was banned from dressing up Boris for Halloween, despite what I swear were fabulous costume ideas. Boris wasnt our ring bearer, much less a wedding guest. He didnt sign the Christmas card. This is not that kind of pet story.
In 1999, several years before I met him, Es dad died. Es dad was a healthy, vibrant and athletically gifted man. The brain tumor was totally unexpected. He was only 56.
In the months after, E, whod never been a pet owner, decided to adopt Boris as a way to help cope with that crushing and irreplaceable loss. The little schnauzer puppy brought him some joy and comfort during an otherwise unbearable period.
When we held Boris this weekend at the vets, and watched him slide, seconds after the injection, from Here into the Out There, I rubbed Boriss back and thanked him aloud for caring for my husband in a time when I couldnt be there. I thanked him for being needed brightness in a time of terrible dark. I meant those thanks. Ill be forever grateful to Boris for a job well done, for helping out someone I love.
Boris isnt the only one who did a good job. People say you can tell how a man will treat you based on how he treats waitstaff, his mother, and animals. E gets 5 stars in all three categories.
Pet ownership, for all its joys and rewards and zaniness, is also expensive and often inconvenient. For 12 years longer than plenty of people maintain friendships, stay married, remain in one job E took care of Boris. He never complained. Never shirked responsibility. Never made excuses. Never lost his temper. If 90 percent of life is showing up, E shows up. Boris was lucky to have him, and so am I.
Weve been sharing good memories, stories about the way Boris seemed to build forts out of pillows and ran like a cantering horse. The time we tested out baby equipment before T was born by putting Boris in the Ergo carrier and bouncy chair. The time Boris came in from his night-time pee with a headless squirrel in his mouth, and my screams echoed up and down Chicagos North Shore. Its funny, when E and I first started dating, it was pretty casual my family said they started hearing lots of stories not so much about this nice guy Id met, but about his dog. The joke was that I had a crush on Boris before I had one on E. Who would have guessed wed end up a family? Now we have a daughter who happily shrieked Bor-zis before she even tried to say Mommy. No offense taken.
Boris buddy, I know youre in dog heaven, eating sausages and riding in open-windowed cars all day long; breathing easy, legs strong. Thank you for everything. Well always miss you.
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