Monday, October 02, 2006

Was that you...

... at the groomer's?

I took Bobo for a haircut to the same store we took you for the first time. The store has moved twice and the staff has changed, but still I felt that I had to take him there.

While I was talking to the groomer I felt a pair of eyes fixed on me. I turned to look and behind a wall-sized glass partition that separates the storefront from the daycare area, I saw a black cocker spaniel looking at me. He had the same brown markings as you, but not the white ones. He also looked rougher and older than you - you always managed to look very young; even at eleven years of age the people that stopped us in the street took you for a puppy.

I froze midway through a sentence and it took me quite a while to recover my stride. Of all the people in the store, he'd chosen to fix his big sad begging eyes on me - and they were your eyes.

Was that you, my sweet beautiful Troilo? I do not even know what I'd prefer to think about this.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Allow me to introduce you...

I spent more than a year moping and struggling without you. A tough year indeed- as if losing you wasn't hard enough divorces and other calamities rain around us and death took two more of my loved people an one more of our pets ( remember Pinky?).

In the midst of this, your memory still hurt. I would find in me no trace of the pleasure of being with you, only the glaring hollow of your absence.

The past 30 of May we celebrated our 25th anniversary by returning for the first time to the beach we still call Troilo's beach; your old favourite.

By then we had already started the process of attempting to adopt another dog. It was the very next day that "Bobo" came home to meet us for the first time... and in the end to stay.

He is a loving, gentle and very happy dog. Although more than a human year and a half in age, he mostly behaves like a puppy. You'd like him, in that almost human way you had of liking other pets - I know you always saw yourself as a pet-owner, blessedly unaware of your own pet condition.

I had a bit of a hard time accepting him entirely. On the one hand my whole body was telling me I needed a dog in my life; but then again my body itself constantly rebelled at the thought of replacing you.

"What is that dog doing in Troilo's house, with Troilo-like noises and attitudes, cuddled by Troilo's owners, sleeping in Troilo's place...?"

You are going to hate this one: He doesn't sleep in your place anymore; after forbidding you access to our bed for your entire life, it only took a month for Gabi to allow Bobo in there.

I did protested in the beginning, I promise. I would grab the invader and toss him gently back to his pillow once and again. But in the end he won; Gabi says that because he is so much smaller than you and he doesn't shed, but I know that for me the reason is that it was actually easier to see Bobo in our bed than taking your place by my bedside.

One of the things I liked from the beginning is that he is so very different from you: light where you were dark, always happy where you were grumpy, noisy and sometimes hyperactive, nothing like the slumbering beauty you had become in later years.

In the beginning he almost looked like a generic happy dog; not a trace of character, of real identity. Nothing compared with your strong sense of identity. But do not forget the little guy has had a rough time in life, with a dead owner and a series of foster homes, so his over-eagerness to please faded his own identity.
Later on he stated to come out of it, he is not so blindly docile, not so fearful of rejection; I think he is starting to accept that he has found a home and a clan.
Slowly it dawned on me as well that I have nothing to fear, that in reality there is no possible way to betray you, that I will not replace you because your place in my heart and my memory is occupied by you forever.

All a newcomer can do is to create his own space in me, just like you did a few years after I lost Perdido - You do know how I feel about him, we have talked about it...

A few weeks ago I sat at my computer and watched the video of us playing together, remember the one we took upstairs? I had sat through it before, but all I had gotten out of it was a sense of loss. This time it was different Troilo: this time I got you back for a while; this time when the video ended I had a smile in my face, however short lived.

All in all what I learnt is that I still have you. I lost the ability to touch you, to share a space with you, but I haven't lost you.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Farewell Que-te-jedi

The night of the eighteen of March of 2005 I went to bed with my heart full of worry, sadness and the always present regrets. I hardly did sleep at all and when the new day came, it brought along the feared news that my best friend had died.

My best friend - this I repeat because the sound of this phrase is soothing to me, like a rocking motion or a pat in the back and a grip of a shoulder.

My very best friend was an 11 years old Cocker Spaniel named Troilo. He died a few years too soon, before I had the oportunity to help him grow old -I feel cheated out of those years.

My friend Troilo that never left my side - day of night - has left a huge hollow in my life. Throughout 11 years we learned to live in complete communion and without him, a large part of me has gone missing as well.

His absence is so prominent because his presence touched every part of mi life; and each part of my life collapsed a bit when he was removed from it.

Its has been almost a year now...

Half sleep, I still slide my body downwards on the bed before I turn on my side to sit up, in order to step down further away from the head of the bed - least I step on him, that slept always by mi side.

I still turn around carefully when I am at home, because he used to lie down besides me wherever I stood.

I open the door slowly when I come back home, because he was sure to be sleeping against it, wait to receive us.

I panic if I see the garden gate open.

I expect him to follow me when I go from room to room. I turn to disuade him at the top of the stairs, when I am just going to pick up this or that thing downstairs - no need to get tired lazy old boy...

I still expect to see him waiting at the top when I mount the staircase back from my brief errand. Or pushing a door open with his paws - any door, he hated closed doors - just to see where I was, when was I coming.

All of these now pointless habits hurt, because they bring him back with an overpowering sorrow.

I do not eat pears anymore, because I cannot share them with him. He loved pears peeled and sliced with my pocket knife.

I do not go to the store where everyone used to know him, where we went together every day as an excuse for our walks.

I haven't returned to the park, or to the beach. (His park; his beach)

Some things I do also hurt because they tell me of his absence: I put things on the floor - drinks, food - because I finally learn again that no-one is going to try and eat them. I leave the Toilet-bowl lid up. I do not rush to pick up things that fall...

I miss finding all his toys strewn accross the house, five minutes after collecting them all in his basquet. The toys seem to have died as well; they stayed in the basket ever since that night without running away.

I miss his hairy paws. Troilo pawing the door of the cupboard to tell us he wanted food, the door of the garden to tell us he needed to go out, or our knees to ask for undivided attention. Those paws that talked.

Those eyes that talked. Troilo's eyes fixated on the cookie can, on our plates, on the meat over the counter, on a toy below the bed or on the sofa where he couldn't reach. He always knew how to tell us what he needed. He never doubted that we were able to understand.

I miss him in the car, taking possesion of the driver's seat when he was waiting. Sitting as a co-pilot when we were driving. Looking at everything with curiosity, and turning to me as if to talk; a one line monologue that said "I love you" perfectly conveyed by his eyes.

The way Troilo used to look at me - I knew he loved me like no-one else did or ever will. Like only a dog could.

We try, we really do. We try to love them back, and we try to love wife and children and parents and friends... and some of us do a very darn good job of it too. But we are not dogs.