His name was Herr Maximilian von Schrek, a McSchnorgle on his mother’s side. Here on the internet, he was known (thanks to my writing partner) as Odd Trundles. He loved Cheetos, bare human ankles, New Friends, his fur-mother Miss B, basking in sunshine, his safe cozy little crate, baby carrots, ear rubs, and snuggling on my bed for his early morning, midmorning, late morning, early afternoon, midafternoon, and late afternoon naps.
That is only a fraction of the things he loved. He was full of joy and affection. It slopped out of him with drool and sudden stenches. And even when he had to endure things he did not like–baths, for example, nail clippings, crease greasing–he was endlessly patient with his beloved human mum.
It happened very quickly. A week ago he was fine, wriggling with delight to meet my writing partner as she dropped by, barking at random noises, walking proudly up to the top of the street in his new harness. Then, during the heatwave, he suddenly grew listless, and flesh melted off his heavy frame. The vet listened while I listed symptoms, and then began his examination, and said, “Oh.”
God, what an awful sound.
It was lymphoma, a particularly aggressive form. Invisible in the beginning stages, and then very quick once the nodes begin to swell. I took Odd home with prednisone and an antibiotic, and hope. Then, overnight, the nodes swelled until the ones under his jaw were blocking his poor compromised airways. He spent Tuesday night struggling to breathe, propped on pillows from my bed, occasionally licking my hand. In the morning, he didn’t even want the Cheetos I tried to tempt him with.
It was time.
Yesterday, Odd visited the vet one last time. All three of his beloved humans hugged him, petted him, told him what a good fellow he was. I sang his special morning song while the first needle went in, and continued singing while the sedative took effect. He relaxed with a heavy sigh, ready to go. His poor corkscrewed body had carried him as long as it could. The kids sang along when the barbiturate went in, petting while I hugged him.
He went into the clear rational light of What Comes Next while we sang the song he often demanded before leaving his crate in the mornings. He was not alone. He’s in no more pain, and his bulky, corkscrewed body no longer frustrates him. He is at rest.
I keep getting up to look for him. I keep glancing down as I walk through the house checking to see if he’s at my ankles. I keep listening for his breathing, never quiet even while sleeping. I woke several times last night, panicked because I couldn’t hear him–sleep apnea, and his medical troubles as a puppy, meant that he might need a midnight check to see if he was still taking in air.
I miss him. I miss his funny face and his high-cantled back end going side-to-side when he was excited, his stub of a corkscrew tail doing its best to wag. I miss his grumbling narration of his day, I even miss grabbing a handful of cocoanut oil to grease one of his many creases.
Miss B is unnerved. She wants to know where the puppy she raised is. She keeps checking to herd him from one room to the next, she keeps looking for his food bowl. Even the Mad Tortie keeps circling the house, looking for her loud, fuzzy, favorite pillow on cold days.
He was the best bulldog. He was funny, kind, happy, protective, fierce when it came to defending us from the hoover, delighted to meet New Friends whether squirrel or hoomin. He loved cats, though his big unwieldy loud self often frightened them. Whenever I stood in one place for very long, he would shuffle up, sit, and lean against me, or if he knew I would start moving again soon, he would simply put his squashed face on my calf or ankle, closing his eyes and content to rest next to Mum.
I knew, with all his health problems, that he wasn’t going to be around long. We had six good years of the best bulldog to ever grace this material plane.
It is not enough. He is gone and I am bereft. Selfishly, I want him back.
Please be extra kind to your furbabies for him. If you feel so moved, the Southwest Washington Humane Society could probably use a donation or two in his name. Be kind to yourself, too. Eat good things, take plenty of naps, and schnorgle with joy.
Max would want that.