Cookie the quirky, defective, anti-social white Chihuahua, was my best pal, although I was not his. A natural born heat-seeker, Cookie preferred and deferred to our other pack member, John, because John’s hands were always warm and mine always ice.
He wasn’t very smart for a dog, impossible to train, but he had his charms. The one trick he would perform on demand was the old “gimme five”, or more accurately “gimme four”. Cookie would sit and quickly touch his paw to your outstretched hand, but only if he knew you had a treat in your other hand. He also had his own happy dance, crazily spinning around like a compass needle, reserved for moments of ultimate fulfillment of longing and joy, like suppertime. We tried to encourage this natural behavior and get him to dance on command, but to no avail. Cookie did exactly what he wanted, whenever it suited him. So it had been from the day we brought the little brat home nearly 14 years ago until just last month.
In mid-March, Cookie stopped dancing and eating, not even tempted by his favorite treats, no longer aware of what he was doing or where he was. Tests at the vet proved inconclusive; systems were failing. I knew he was slipping away and all I could do was make him comfortable and wait.
That last morning I didn’t know it was going to be his last morning. I groomed him as gently as possible, dabbing at the bit of dried blood that still matted his fur at the back of his neck where the vet had drawn so many samples the week before. I trimmed his nails, and for the only time in his life he did not protest, and wiped away the bits of yarn fiber that were constantly getting sucked into his soft, brown saucer eyeballs.
After we were done, I set him on the corner of the sofa, his beloved watch post, but Cookie didn’t stay there long. Eyes clouded with cataracts, legs weak and unsteady, he staggered down his little doggy stair steps and, drawn by instinct, found a welcoming spot on the floor, the place where the late morning sun hit and heated the carpet. He circled that spot once, laid himself in the sunny warmth, breathing heavily. I tried stroking him and calming him, but nothing would delay the inevitable. His head drooped to the carpet, he shuddered and breathed his last.
I never understood, in the movies and TV, when grieving loved ones would say “he looked so peaceful” or “I thought she was just sleeping”. I get it now. And I have done some difficult things in my life; I birthed two babies, I sized crochet garment patterns, I lost my dad. But the hardest thing I ever had to do was that morning, bundling Cookie’s tiny, limp, still warm body and taking him to the vet for his final arrangements.
People deal with grief in their own time and in their own ways. Today I immerse myself in my crochet and have been creating a remembrance. It’s not quite finished; it is a work in progress as is my grieving.
In a while I will have my emotions in hand, will likely publish this filet project as a DJC Design so I can share with you Cookie’s Last Dance.
One more thing. I am not sure if I have figured out how to do this, or if I have the right to do this, but I hope all concerned will forgive me. This piece of music has helped me, a catharsis in four and a half minutes. Written by Karen Taylor-Good and Burton B. Collins, produced by the late Phil Ramone, this song, performed by Laura Branigan, might be heard if you click through here a couple of times.