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And Then There Were Three

I Ask Percy How I Should Live My Life

Love, love, love, says Percy. And hurry as fast as you can along the shining beach, or the rubble, or the dust.

Then, go to sleep. Give up your body heat, your beating heart. Then, trust.

Mary Oliver

Henry died Tuesday in the early hours of the morning, on his bed with Gus and Seamus tucked in next to him. He woke me up at about 4 am, we went outside, I spent a few minutes petting him and then carried him to his bed. He looked at me with those big brown eyes and laid down next to Seamus and that was that. When I got up to take the kids to school, he was gone. He's been sick for about 6 months and I thought I had prepared myself for his leave-taking but, as it turns out, it still feels like my heart is broken. I guess there's no preparing for that last breath— it's shocking.

The era of Henry was a good one: he sat on chairs, climbed on tables and slept on my lap, he snored like a 500 pound gorilla, he was a 'finished' show dog, he had a granddaughter named Winter Rose, he convinced George (all 80 pounds of him) that he was the alpha, he preferred to drink the water that collected on the hot tub cover, his 'leadership' style could be described as a mixture between a benevolent dictator and a 20 pound bad-ass, he loved blueberries, carrots, bananas & cucumbers, he would sit in the garden with me and watch me pull weeds, he stayed at my side when we walked the beach (unlike the other ruffians who acted like they were on furlough when their feet hit the sand), he never fetched a ball or stick once (despite my repeated efforts), he sat on a chair next to me while I wrote blog posts, checked emails and edited photos, he was always under foot when I was cooking, he nearly choked to death on a piece of hamburger that I dug out of his throat and came back to spend another two years with us, he watched TV and barked at every, and I mean every, animal that came on the screen (he really had a problem with elephants) and he was a thespian (he and Ted were in Cyrano de Bergerac at Stagenorth). A lot of life and memories for seven and a half years.

As I sat down to write this post, I instinctively pulled out the chair for Henry to hop up on and it took a minute before I remembered he was gone. There's still so much to get used to and it started the second he left. He was always at my side and I imagine George, Gus or Seamus will fill that void but it'll be bittersweet. He got one shot at being Henry and he didn't dally; he was loving, loyal, opinionated, bossy and joyful— a perfect Dougherty dog. His ending was exactly what I had prayed for— he died peacefully and with dignity.  It was a good ending for a very, very good dog.