After my daughter died I didn’t want to love a single person or thing ever again. But Marika left me her dog. That was 8 ½ years ago. In the midst of my grieving, Suki became the sweetness and light in my life. Even now, when I look at this poochie-girl, the oxytocin in my brain bubbles over, melting all moodiness and moving me to plant multiple kisses on the fuzzy bridge of her nose. I’m a total mush pot over this dog.
Most of the time at home, when I’m not talking to my dead daughter, I’m talking to her dog. I worry about every little lump I find on her—is it cancer, is she going to stay healthy and have a good life? Is she too warm? Is she too cold? Driven to sew polar fleece blank-ees and construct plush featherbeds in every corner of the house for my baby-dog, I have a sneaking suspicion that Suki has turned into a replacement child.
Last week, Suki turned ten. And I wondered what I could possibly give her for a birthday present. She already had an abundance of squeaky toys and chew-sticks. And multiple puffer coats for cold-weather hiking. A card offering 20% off on a Dog DNA test arrived in the mail, and for a brief time I considered making a doggie birthday party but these ideas made me want to barf. Instead, I decided to spend a ton of time with her.
On the big day I put a bowtie necklace around her neck and fed her lots of roast beef. We hiked with friends, chased frogs around the pond, and played fetch. She got several belly-rubs. We spent the whole day together and I almost took her to the meeting of bereaved parents that evening knowing they’d understand my not wanting to leave her behind on her birthday. But Suki seemed worn out from all the attention. She crawled up on her new pillow perch in the window by the front door and pretty much told me she’d had enough.
Am I crazy for treating my dog like my child?
Well. Life is too short to worry about such things. And it’s too hard to go through life without love. So I’m just gonna keep doing anything I can to make sure my inherited dog has the best life possible.