When I wrote my love letter to my dog Trixie a while back, I meant to follow up with a post about my other dog, Enya on her birthday. Well May 11 came and went and I didn’t get around to writing that post. So here I am, July 15, and I am ready to write about her on the day of her death.
Enya came to us a month or so after my ex and I bought our house in 2002. Her previous owner was a neighbor in the apartment complex we had lived in. The owner had lost her job and was moving to another apartment which didn’t allow dogs. It made sense to take Enya. She and Trixie already knew each other and got along, and Enya was a sweet, beautiful dog. Over the years she was at turns funny, dumb, annoying and sweet. Throughout it all she was a loving girl who didn’t know she wasn’t a lap dog. When my ex and I separated, but were still living together, I moved into my office, sleeping on the futon there. Enya was the one who made herself at home in the evenings, followed by Trixie, so that I didn’t sleep alone during that time.
Enya’s death didn’t come as a surprise. Over the last couple of years she’s gone deaf and partially blind. She had a stroke last year. In the past couple of months she had been having accidents around the house. But through it all she was her usual self: always wanting attention, always on the lookout for food dropped on the floor, always keeping watch for untold dangers (such as neighbors mowing the lawn, kids walking to school, etc.). Last night she ate her dinner without incident. Later in the evening she stood up, legs wobbling, unable to get her bearings. I got her outside where she collapsed on the grass. I recognized the symptoms from her stroke. Stephan and I got her back inside and comfortable on a blanket. We sat with her, checking on her, giving her love and attention. At one o’clock in the morning she was gone.
Our friend, Chrissy, came over today to watch the kids while we buried Enya in the back yard. I’ve never dug a grave before. Really, it’s not different from any other kind of digging. We could have been prepping to plant a tree or digging a well, or any number of other chores. There was no pretending this was anything other than what it was, though. And I was glad for the physical work of it. As we dug through clay and rocks and roots I had time to process what I was doing. All morning long I had engaged in evasive chores: folding laundry, cleaning the backyard, tidying the house. As long as I didn’t have to think about my dog she wasn’t really gone.
Stephan placed her body in the hole and I sprinkled a handful of dog food and a splash of water down on her. “I don’t know where you’re going now, but in case you get hungry here’s some food and water.” I cried … again.
Sitting with her last night, digging her grave today, I realize just what losing Enya means. My Jerk Brain has made an art of calling into question others’ feelings for me. It works constantly to convince me that people put up with me out of pity or because they want something from me. It has told me time and again that people are blind to how shitty I really am. “If they knew the real you, they’d abandon you like you deserve,” is the constant refrain.
But Enya was a dog. Dogs just love you, no strings attached. Why does Enya love me? Because she’s a dog. That’s what she does. My jerk of a brain couldn’t tell me that her love was conditional or that she’d run if she knew what a bad person I am. My relationship with Enya was Jerk Brain proof.
This hurts, despite knowing it was coming. I feel ragged and raw. I have spent a lot of today cuddling with Trixie, knowing that one day, too, she’ll be gone. I won’t be ready then, either.
RIP Enya: my butt licking, rabbit poop eating, lap sitting, tail thumping, compost munching, old lady dog. (May 11, 1999 – July 15, 2015)