My ridgeback not eating, limping heavily. We will take him through to the vet this afternoon and, if necessary, agree to his being put down. Such dread and heartache in me that I walk around with stone in my belly.
I have loved this dog so fiercely since he lay as a tiny puppy curled on my shoulder burping a smell of toast and milk after we chose him from the litter in Stellenbosch. The sweetest and bravest nature I have ever known in a dog. And irreplaceable as a companion.
But I will not let him suffer if nothing further can be done. And he has enjoyed his life to the full. The grief and loss is ours alone.
A large red ridgeback sleeping in the sun outside the kitchen door. Barking at bicycles (his only enemy). Rubbing his head against my thigh to comfort me when I was in pain after the hysterectomy; leaning against me and yawning contentedly after his supper; shivering with fear during thunderstorms, a big baby who hated thunder in the mountains; wagging his tail when I sang to him. Praying this need not happen yet, craving his company a while longer, though my heart is like lead.
And for security reasons we will have to get another dog or dogs very soon, which violates the need to grieve his uniqueness. But if the house is left unguarded, there will be a spate of burglaries and the risk of attack of intruders. How the eroded quality of life in an unsafe South Africa tires and depresses me.
What remains important is to stay present to the loss and anguish and ‘nowness’ of all that is happening. Still weak with flu, trembly with anticipation about my trip to the UK in May, working through issues of boundaries with Ula –living all of life as much as I can, sober and grateful, asking for the gift of humility. Humility from humus, the great leveller, the rich loamy leaf mould and dark compost full of nutrients, where growth begins. The seedbed, the beginning. And the dust to which we shall return, as all ordinary living creatures do, dying in our turn. Si le grain ne meurt…