My heart is heavy because this morning, we took our beloved dog, Max, to the vet to be put to sleep. He was 14, a good innings for a large dog. He was sore a lot of the time: his skin itched constantly and he suffered with hip dysplasia. And he was uncomfortable: his arthritis was making it more and more difficult to move.
But he lived to go to the beach. There, he would forget his age and his pains, and he would frolic like a puppy. He would wait at the front door, just in case someone tried to slip off without him. After a life in suburbia, Max spent his last 18 months in his own paradise.
The morning was good to Max; the beautiful calm weather meant that he could have that last jaunt to the beach. But then he battled to walk up the little bank from the beach.
He was calm when he went, and I like to think that he welcomed the relief. Maybe even, he’s now with the great love of his life, Gypsy, our Irish terrier who died of biliary fever a few years before we moved to this village. But that doesn’t make it any less sad.
So then I discover something else about gardening: it helps healing. I start planting: turnips in the vegetable garden and giant stocks in the non-indigenous section. I foliar feed absolutely everything with earthworm “wee”. I pull out weeds. And I think of Max all this time, his gentle presence: after the beach, the garden was his favourite place to be. Somehow I feel a little lighter when I’m done.