Just a little more than a week ago, our sweet Basco took his last breath here at home. His death left trauma in its wake; Chuck and I were unprepared despite the fact that poor Basco had suffered from heart problems more than six years. I suppose that’s the way it works with death. We’re never really prepared. The week that has passed has softened the sharpness of the pain, and acceptance has taken its place.
So many people reached out to us during those early days. I got emails and cards in the mail and so many expressions of sympathy and understanding from my Facebook friends. That created conflicted feelings in me, too. I felt a little embarrassed about the depth of my despair, a little greedy for needing the support of others so much. Those feelings contradicted my normal sense of self-efficacy and mental toughness. So much for that…
Chuck and I have spent the last week remembering our little “Puppin,” my pet name for him. We reminisced about both the good memories and the bad. Basco cost us, on average, $150 a month: prescription dog food, heart meds, pain meds, and treats. The last few days of his life were over $500. In addition to the money, he always had a problem with house training, and for several years he wore a doggy diaper inside the house because he took to marking things. He was maddeningly OCD about certain things, and drove Chuck crazy by running in circles relentlessly as Chuck prepared his meals. Every trash can in the house had to be secured because he loved to chew up paper of any kind—and he watched for opportunities when we were careless, enjoying the game. He stole gum and chocolate out of my book bag repeatedly and then would poop out shiny tinfoil particles.
We remembered all these and more, and we both concluded we would do it again and more. Despite how high maintenance Basco was, he also had his loving side. Every morning without fail, when I emerged from the bedroom, Basco came to me and gave me one soft lick on the calf, a “good morning kiss.” Every day when I returned after being away for a while, he howled energetically for me; he did this two days before he died even when he wasn’t feeling his best. He was a snuggler, a lover, and a furever friend, no questions asked.
Last Friday, Chuck brought Basco home. Our vet arranged his cremation through All Paws Great and Small, a crematory for pets in Bozeman. Our good friend from Clyde Park had made a beautiful wooden urn for us a few weeks ago, which we sent with his body. Upon return, we got his paw print in ceramic, a lock of his fur, a certificate of cremation (certifying that it is our Basco we got back), and his ashes in a plastic bag inside the urn. All of that came in a paper sack with his name on it. Chuck bought him flowers, on the way home, and the card says, “To my friend…Basco, we miss you so,” and now we have him home with us forever. From the bottom of my overly sentimental heart, I thank you all for your words of encouragement, the cards, the messages, and the general good wishes, and I’ll leave you with the words of the great veterinarian and writer James Herriot: “If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”