The NY Times posted a good article on research on grieving pet owners.
I received a letter from Snoop today. It was addressed to his mommy, but he forgot the address, so it was forwarded to me at work. Weird.
I’m here at this big park, where I get to run all day with all these other cool dogs. I eat whatever I want, but I never get full. It’s hella cool. It never rains here, so I don’t have to wear a garbage bag or anything. Thought you’d like to know that. I MISS YOU! Although, I don’t have any seizures or pain anymore, I miss you taking me out on our walks and cleaning my eyes when you get home. I’ve been watching you since I left my body at home. Can you tell grandma that she was sweet for rubbing my back. It made me feel comfortable.
As I was saying, I’ve been watching you on this television that they have by the park here. It seems like all the other doggies watch their t.v. too. A couple of doggies though don’t get one, so I guess their mommies weren’t nice or something, or maybe they were bad. I don’t know. I don’t like it when you cry mommy. I miss you, too, and our magic carpet rides, but I like not having to guess when I was going to have another seizure. It sucked.
I just wanted to write a quick note that I love it here, and although I can never love it as much as home with you and pops, it’s way better than walking on earth not knowing what’s up. I love watching my t.v. and seeing you and dad talk about my antics: stealing a fry from the coffee table, running to my “safe zone” i.e. papasan, after I done something wrong, me popping my head up while I’m sleeping, as dad tries to get more of his blanket under me, while I ignore him and go back to sleep. I love watching this t.v., because after my day running around, sniffing EVERYTHING, and not waiting for my leash to do whatever I want, I can always turn on this t.v. to watch you. I like it when you laugh and smile. I know you miss me, mommy, and maybe not as much as I miss you, but watching you so sad all the time is like watching a Korean drama. It’s not raining in the house mom. Although, I did see you chug some soju to fall asleep. Bad mommy.
I love you and when my ashes come back, you’ll feel my spirit in the house. Well, that’s what dad’s brother’s dog said…I think you met him, Oz. He thought daddy was lazy too. Hahaha…we crack up on sharing stories about daddy. Anyways, I better go back to watching you on my t.v., because you should be getting ready for work right about now, and as you know, I always watch you when you get ready.
Again, one day, you’ll feel better without me being physically there…just remember, I’m always watching and loving you from my t.v. up here. I don’t even have to pay cable. Hehehe…btw, I only get to send one letter, so I’m trying to make this one count.
T.V. mommy…it’s how I watch you, so I’d like to see some smiles and laughing from time to time. I know I was cool and stuff, but seeing you sad makes me sad. Me not want to feel so sad anymore.
I loooove you…and when my ashes come back, make sure daddy doesn’t throw his cigarettes in there. If he does, I’m gonna bark and haunt him…hehehe…kidding.
Since Snoop’s Great Escape to the Big Doggie Park in the Sky, we haven’t been home on the weekends, as if running away from what we need to: deal.
It’s still lonely in the house without ol’ Snoop, but time is beginning to ease the dejection of not having him around. We miss him, and although, we’ve contemplated getting another doggie, it’s still too soon, and with Sai running off to school in August, not really feasible.
It’s raining today, and I’m just reminded of his mommy dressing up Snoop in a Glad plastic garbage cap, and even trying to give him plastic bag booties. So sad, so sad, but funny.
I finally vacuumed the house yesterday, which was the first time since he passed away, and his fur was everywhere. Nostalgic pangs, meng. Nostalgic pangs.
Jam of the Day: “February Stars” Foo Fighters
I’d love to share some video of Snoop dancing for treats, and once I figure how to upload it from my phone, I will. “Dancing with the Stars” got nothing on ol’ Snoop dogg! And you KNOW this mang!
Sai came home from work to an empty house this morning, and each morning eternal, coming home from work for her will be met with nostalgia and sadness. The morning sun may shine a new day outside, while the house ekes of grey and want for yesterday. What seems to help is talking about his crazy antics; like how he would drool if you had food on your plate. I know dogs drool, but this crazy fool would ONLY drool if you had food. You could tell how much he wanted a particular food by measuring the length of his drool from mouth to floor. By that measure, I think he really liked fried chicken, like his daddy. Call me crazy, but it sure looked like it.
I will have “Jams of the Day” for each post, connecting a song to a particular mood (for Snoop).
Here’s the first one –
Jam of the Day: “Yesterday” The Beatles
This blog will continue for a bit, since writing about Snoop gives me therapeautic release from the empty greetings by the door and the lonely air in the house without him around. I miss him dearly, and his mommy…well, let’s just say her heart beats a half slower these days.
At approximately 5:08 p.m. on Good Friday, Snoop passed away, leaving this world in peace, but in his way; leaving on his own terms. Unfortunately, I was not there as he took in his last breath. Thankfully, he was surrounded by his mom and his grandma, caressing his heaving body while he fought to stay alive. The cancer may have took his life, but it could not take away his spirit.
The day started normal enough. The night before, he slept on his favorite couch downstairs as his grandma draped a blanket on him. In the morning, as his mommy came home from work, per Snoop’s ritual, he ran to the door to greet her. When he heard the door open, he would always rush to make sure he didn’t miss his mommy come home, and as such, on this particular morning, he rushed to the door with the blanket still draped around his body. His mommy would clean his eyes, and kiss him on the face, as she always did in the morning, before changing to take him out on the first of his two contractual walks. There was no indication on this walk that anything was different. With usual verve, Snoop did his dance when his mom grabbed his red leash. Snoop visited his normal spots, smelling the same spots as it was the first time. The beauty of Snoop was he held everyday as if it was the first time for anything; eating, walking, and yes, sleeping. That dog loved sleeping as much as his mommy, and that’s what made those two the dynamic duo. Their superpowers were only useful in their sleep. You could tell, since both of them mumbled and jerked in their sleep; I’m sure fighting villains together in tandem.
On Snoop’s last afternoon on earth, there was no indication of it being such. So much so that his mom was getting ready to leave for the mall. Per ritual, she grabbed a biscuit for Snoop to assure him she would return. This time was a little different. He didn’t dance, but glanced at his mommy with sad purpose, which worked. She said, “o.k., we’ll walk to the mailbox.” Then he did his dance.
A mere 15 steps from the house, Snoop collapsed into another seizure. The seizure lasted for a minute, and he laid on the sidewalk for awhile. His mommy ran to the house to grab his grandmother to help carry Snoop back to the house. It was then that his mommy and grandma realized they fed him way too many treats.
Upon returning Snoop to the house, he tried valiantly to get up on his own. After a few minutes, he did, only to return to his papasan. His breathing started to get heavier, and he even tried to drink water on his own strength.
You could tell he was fighting to stay normal…in the end, he simply laid on his side and his breathing started to gap longer and longer. In an hour after collapsing outside, he punched his ticket to enter the big doggy park in the sky.
I finally came home to see his mommy watching over him, as he was swathed in his blanket, “sleeping” peacefully. Hunching over both of them, I gently rubbed Snoop’s head, like I have a million times before, only to realize he wasn’t going to nudge back or shake his head like he had a million times. His mommy gently nudged Snoop and whispered, “wake up”. That broke my heart.
You can look up words in the Webster or Oxford dictionaries to describe loss, pain, emptiness, loneliness, and surreal. Yet, these words are just that: words. How can you even convey these feelings unless you’ve felt them yourself. In the catharsis of writing as Snoop, and in writing this last post, I think the only salve for this grief will be time. Time to get used to coming home to an empty house. Time to get used to opening the door without Snoop’s nose already two steps out the door. Time to get used to actually grabbing the bedsheets and getting covered without “fat boy” hogging them. In loss, we share a common theme: time heals. No timetable, of course, but time, well, takes…time.
To even convey what pain, loss, and grief that Snoop’s mom feels at any given moment is too immense and deep to describe. What I can share is what she felt with him in her life. Before Evangelina, angelically, gave Snoop to us (to try out), Sai was rudderless after almost 2 years back East. She was home without purpose and felt discouraged about med school. She asked for a sign to “move forward”. Then came Snoop running into our house (literally), barking like he owned the house from the get-go. Honestly, Sai was ready to give him back, even calling Evangelina to tell her so. Thankfully, Evangelina insisted we give it one full week.
Sai never had any pets, let alone a big, belligerent dog. In one defining moment, the two of them bonded, and hence became inseparable: the Pet Smart incident. She took him to Pet Smart, but Snoop must’ve thought she was taking him back to the pound. He froze and started to shake at the front walkway and would not move. She had to ask a stranger to help her carry him back to the car. It was then that she realized, this big belligerent dog was sensitive and scared, trusting her to take care of him and not give him up.
Since that time, up until his final moments, Sai gave all her love, time, and heart to Snoop. She spoiled that dog. There were limits of course: no sitting on the couch or magic carpet rides in the new car. Of course, in the end, she even relented to those restrictions.
We probably can take up an entire wing of the SF MOMA to show a gallery of photos that Sai took of Snoop. I can see the photography captions: This one is called, “Snoop pre-disposed”; “Snoop choosing an a la carte menu”; “Snoop Staring utilizing Jedi Mind Trick – You will give me another biscuit”. The photos/captions are endless. I’ll set up a link to a Flickr account to share the “Snoop Exhibition”. He wasn’t the most photogenic doggie, but what he lacked in looks, he made up in pure personality.
Mostly, everyone will say their pet has unique sensibilities or traits, which is true. It’s what makes our pets special. It’s what makes us do pretty much what only pet owners do: spoil to oblivion. The clichés are tried and true as well. Pets do become members of the family. What do you do when a family member passes? You go through the stages of grief. I’m probably rambling at this point, but just writing about him keeps him alive in my heart. I write to give life to his story, to shine light into the memories trapped inside our hearts. So…I write on.
Snoop, in the end, was a witness to a solitude that he kept. He loved his mommy with so much verve, he ended up locking himself up in the bathrooms three times sniffing for her. He wanted to be by her side so closely, he’d squeeze next to her, leaving her practically falling off the bed with no room to spare. At family parties, even with every auntie, uncle, nephew, and niece giving him food, he’d look around for his mommy just to make sure she was within eye-shot. He was a witness to a solitude of unrequited love that only a mother can give a child. It’s quiet. There are no trumpets exclaiming this affection. It’s given unconditionally. It slays the beast of cynicism that attacks our modern world. You protect it. You let it grow. After death, the solitude of this love heightens, only to be heard in the whispers of your own heart, for the one that received it has gone.
To Snoop, know that we were all witnesses to the solitude that you kept between you and your mommy. She misses you (as we all do). Remember, as you run amok up in the big doggy park in the sky, your mommy keeps the solitude you witnessed. She hears it, as it whispers silently, in her heart.
I think during my seizure I may have crossed to the other side, but being belligerent as I am, I didn’t want to leave just yet. Too many treats to eat, sniffs to finish, walks to enjoy, and mom to love.
I know I have a photo shoot this weekend with mom and dad, so I think I’ll stick around for a bit. I wants to look good, and I’ve never been to the beach. Don’t want to leave just yet without peeing on sand and surf. Just sayin.
I’m doing o.k. for a doggie that has crossed to the other side. Ain’t nothing like a good scare to score more treats.