Our dear dog, Georgie, died last Monday. Georgie was with us, Matthew and I, for ten years, half of Dory's life. She was a lovable girl, very gentle, comfortable with strangers only if Matthew or I were there. She came from the streets, this gorgeous Border collie/Spaniel/mutt mix, having spent most of her early life (we think) living on her own.
She was protective of me. Once, when I was home alone and had a handyman in, she hurtled a baby gate, going up steps, to get to me and she stayed put between this stranger and myself the entire time he was there.
She did not settle into indoor living easily. She was inquisitive, destructive, and yet she hated crates. When we buried her, Dory insisted we not put her in a box, saying, "Georgie wouldn't like that." Dory was right; Georgie hated containment.
She hated fireworks, thunderstorms. So many nights Matthew and I took turns staying up with this poor animal coming out of her skin at the crashes and bangs accompanying a later summer storm. Typically she alerted me to a night time storm by sitting on my head. As she got older, it got easier. I liked to think she felt safe. Probably her hearing was starting to go.
She loved us for loving her. She wanted only to be with us, as much as she could. Georgie opted to be in stressful situations, us shouting at the television during a football game, rather than be in a room on her own.
She was always gentle with Dory, always so easy about this crying, crawling, inquisitive baby, this unruly toddler, this little girl who dressed her in princess clothes, namely plastic, gold-painted crowns, and old nightgowns of mine. I once carried Georgie's train.
I hated all the mess of a dog, the hair, the dandruff. She has a hodge-podge bed on the floor of our bedroom, an old, torn, cotton blanket and a cheap and flimsy brown-and-red dogbed. We washed them frequently the older she got as her bladder gave out. I'm not ready to wash them and put them away, this mess from when she was here.
I loved her so much. I didn't know how much, not really, not in everyday life. There were flashes of it, flashes of her head on my lap, my hands buried in the ruff of her neck, when I knew it then. But not in the day-in, day-out experience, especially not after our baby arrived. It was only in the last year I came back to her, came back to loving her, noticing her, really paying attention to her. I don't think her love ever waned, not if the way she stuck to me, stayed under my feet, settled outside the door of the bedroom when I put Dory to bed gives any indication of devotion. A dog is unwavering devotion embodied
Her death itself does not worry me. I do not doubt her spirit survives, fleeing her old body for new pastures. She was old, she was ready. She and we were blessed with a quick, and easy death. It is not the death itself that bothers me; it is the absence of her everyday physical presence. I miss the head in the window when our car pulls up, the attempts to tunnel to China through the floor, the awkward ballet performed around her in the kitchen while cooking dinner. There is the everydayness of an animal that tethers us to home and the house feels so still without her in it.
Georgie was the best dog. She was entirely ordinary, exactly as good as every other good dog that's ever existed. The house is so quiet. I miss my girl.