I have been expecting the death of my family’s dog, Littles, for years, now. I’m home at my parents’ house for vacation, and I am once more considering her demise. She’s the first and only dog my family has had. She’s a Lab-Rottweiler mix, and when she looks at me with her deep brown eyes, I think she sees me as a bad person. I…

Don’t give food.
Sometimes here, sometimes gone. Confusing.
Took her on that really hard walk that one time. Did not bring treats.
Bad person.

She’s 14 years old, and one night wandered into the room where Mitch and I were sleeping. She never sleeps in there and I think she was lost. She lay down in the middle of the floor. Lying in bed with the lights off, Littles-the-aged sleeping on my floor making weird scooting, wheezing, scratching noises, I grew increasingly anxious. What if she dies, tonight, in here?

I turned on the lights and she looked at me, horror-stricken. Maybe she could sense my unease, and it worried her. Maybe she suddenly thought she was going to be stuck with me forever. I spoke soothingly to her, but she’s deaf. I tried to lure her out of the room, and she just looked confused. I brought her bed into the room so that she’d be less scared and realize that I have purpose as a human being. She didn’t move. Mitch told me to put it back.

I had thought that I had come to total terms with the fact that she’s old and going to die soon, in several years, or whenever. I had hugged and kissed her goodbye forever each time I left Colorado. I thought that took care of it. But I realized that if I woke up with her dead in my childhood room I would not be okay. I was frightened of the prospect of death so close to me and leaving actual remains, actual evidence beyond memories and an emotional connection. That kind of death feels so creepy and crazy and unreal.

She made it fine through the night, though. And now whenever she’s sleeping, I stare at her, making sure her body is still moving with breath.  

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