Sunday, July 13, 2008

Her Name Was Arrow

How does one say good-bye to a spirit so true, a companion so steady? Let me try…

Her name was Arrow. She was not only as fast as one, but resembled her namesake from the 70’s animated film, The Point, though she wasn’t blue. Her color had been described as champagne, though that sounds a bit fancy for a dear soul who’d been abandoned to the streets one frigid winter~~luckily a brief sojourn before moving into our home and into our hearts.

Arrow’s eyes were a soft brown, her spirit gentle, attentive, constant. She accompanied me wherever she could~~living room to kitchen, kitchen to bath, bath to bedroom. Everywhere but upstairs because, although we’d carpeted the open slatted steps so she’d be more comfortable, she never got the hang of stairs. She’d just lay in her place by the couch waiting, without regard to time, until I came back down.

Her bed lay at the foot of ours. I’m usually the first human to rise in our house and Arrow my first connection in what is often a long day of meaningful contacts. She’d rise and she’d wag, eager eyes welcoming me to the morning.

We were a therapy team on the days she accompanied me to the office. She’d lay at the door, front paws crossed before her, ready to greet folks arriving in search of healing~~a welcoming presence who put tender souls at ease. I never tired of learning from her about timing, noticing when my furry co~therapist listened to a client’s tears from her blanket and wondering how she knew it was time to move forward, to offer a soft ear to stroke, a brown eye of comfort, a reminder that soothing can exist in this often harsh world of ours. Her instincts were always true.

On the days I went to work alone, she’d be waiting on the porch when I returned. After a few yips of greeting, we’d move to the bedroom, and while I changed into my off~duty duds, the Happy Dance would be enacted in earnest. Arrow’s version was this: playful puppy pose~~front legs outstretched, butt in the air~~interspersed with full body circles and wild rubbing of her face against her bed, all accompanied by deep-throated groans of sheer joy.

Despite her tolerance for upset with our mutual clients, Arrow reacted visibly whenever my husband or I were agitated, particularly so if we were angry with one another. She was our barometer. As soon as a discussion would begin to heat up, she was there, gentle eyes urging our better selves forward. On those occasions we deliberately chose to disregard her sound advice and have at it anyway, she’d simply lay down at our feet, patiently waiting for us to be done with such foolish waste.

Arrow was a shining presence~~in our home, in our lives, in the lives of others. But on Saturday morning, this dear dog let us know it was time to let her go. The Inflammatory Bowel Disease that had plagued her for years~~we assume a legacy of surviving (barely) on garbage so long ago~~had returned with a vengeance this past week. Antibiotics were no longer effective. After some short~lived improvements, she now turned away from food, could barely walk, vomited water.

Asking for guidance~~or more likely, reassurance~~I drew the 4 of Swords from my Waite-Ryder Tarot deck. An effigy of a knight lying in repose on a casket. This card does not tend to be associated with a physical death~~ more of a retreat and withdrawal~~but in this context, the message seemed quite clear~~particularly after my friend, Kelli, pointed out the connection between arrows and swords, the number of swords and my 4-legged friend. Yes, it was time.

So, we gave this loving dog one last loving gift. Euthanasia comes from the Greek eu-, meaning good and thanatos, meaning death. We gave our Arrow a good death, kneeling on a blanket beside her, attended by the gentle hands of Dr. Lori who’d already given her an additional 3 years of quality life. We stroked those velvet ears for the last time, cried tears from hearts grown deeper and richer through her presence in our lives, and said farewell to an amazingly sweet and loving soul.

And now it is the day after and I return to a life without Arrow. No tail wagging or warm brown eyes greeted me when I rose. I walk between rooms unaccompanied now. The space left by Arrow's passing is enormous and I feel the loss keenly. I am sad and empty and a bit discombobulated. In other words, I grieve.

Yet, it is not so very terrible. Arrow continues to teach from beyond, this time offering a deeper knowledge of acceptance, of letting go, of putting myself in harmony with the Great Round of life and death. It is easier to do anything when one is truly loved~~and I have been truly loved. And I have truly loved in return, and I will cherish this dog, my companion on this earth walk for 12 precious years, forever.

Arrow Shuka
November 25th, 1994~~July 12th, 2008

Good-bye, my Arrow Shuka girl. Namaste, my dear, sweet dog.

Loanne Marie

And for a tribute to Sasha, Arrow's husky friend who lived half a year longer though she was over a year older, click here.


Jay said...

What a nice remembrance of Arrow. I loved her too and am sorry I won't see her again.

Tamara said...

I remember the first time I met Arrow. It was like a competition between us for your attention. Okay it was just me not her. She was the perfect lady and we all knew that I loved her. I saw the deep bond between you both and you compared it to the bond between me and my Rory. My heart hurts for you and is filled with joy when I remember Arrow and her gental patience with me.

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Leia Marie