My dog Magnus died Saturday night. He seemed fine and was roughhousing with Sisi my small red smooth coated female at 8 o’clock but when I went to let him out before bed he didn’t come. I looked for him and found him dead in my closet stiff and cold. He must have gone in there to die soon after I saw them playing!
It is always a shock to lose a dog. And Magnus was such a sweetheart! I put his stiff little body on a bathroom rug. It was blue and has pink flowers on it, edged by fringe. I gently put him wrapped in the rug into a lovely wicker laundry basket. He was sort of elevated by the side of the basket so he appeared to be looking out. I set it on a work table in my garage where it would stay cool and off the floor. My son told me he would bury him the next day. I am so sad about this. Thank Goodness I still have my little Sisi and also, sweet but crazy Dandy Dude. I inherited him when my mother died in 2019! So I will sleep cuddled up with them tonight.
That last evening, while I was eating curried shrimp and a Ceasar salad, at the card table in the library, I saw him playing with Sisi and having fun. That was at about 8 pm but then I watched 2 Agatha Christi mystery movies back to back not paying attention to where the dogs were. I was comfortably relaxed and cushioned into the large sofa facing a roaring fire. Sisi was in my lap and I was not worried about the other two since they were safe inside.
After watching the second movie in my library, it was nearly midnight. I called the dogs to go out in the back for their final “pee” before we all got into bed together. But Magnus did not come. I thought that was odd. My heart grew chill. When I found him he was lying dead in my closet. COLD and STIFF dead. He looked peaceful. If he made any noise before dying, I did not hear it. Nor did the other dogs.
Sisi was really the one who found him. She went into my walk-in closet which is entered through my bathroom. And she just stayed there. I saw her and went to see why she was sitting so still in the darkened closet. When I turned on the light I saw him lying there just as if he was sleeping.
For a moment, I believed he was sleeping, but my heart sank as I looked at him. I reached out to touch him and there was no doubt. The feeling of touching a dead animal, the coolness of their body, and the stiffness of their necks or limbs is gruesome.
Heart attack? Stroke? Twisted intestine? Not poison, because they were all together and others are fine including my son’s dog who stayed here all day Saturday. I am not going to have an autopsy, he is already buried in my garden.
I am grieving now.
Yes, Magnus appeared completely healthy. He was 8 and a half. He was active and happy, all his life. He loved to swim in the pool. He would sit on the top step and immerse his little body in the water. He was addicted to coffee. From the first morning, he spent with me as a puppy, he wanted my coffee. He was just wild to get a drink of it, so I let him have some. This continued all his life. I usually added milk and watered it down. He was not allowed too much. But he would moan or bark until I gave him some. He would stand at a countertop looking up at my mug of coffee and never moving. His intensity was endearing and I am a soft touch. My boy was cuddly and loving and he adored me. I have lost many dogs over my lifetime, but it is never easy. You never get used to it, it never stops being painful.
The suddenness makes it particularly shocking and hurtful. I guess it is better in some ways to have some warning, some time to prepare, time to say goodbye. I did not say goodbye, and it makes me tearful just to write that.
But I KNOW that Magnus knew how much I loved him. And maybe his little doggie soul is still around watching what we are all doing. The other dogs are looking for him. If he is around he would see me with unexpected tears appearing at inopportune moments.
It is strange, I think I am fine, and then suddenly begin weeping involuntarily. Other times I sit down and let the grief overwhelm me, hoping that if I let it gush out, perhaps it will be gone sooner. I hope so because this has been a painful couple of days. As I write this it is only one and a half days, but it feels longer.
My children have been lovely. They know how hard this is. After all, they collectively gave Magnus to me for my birthday 8 years ago. They are already talking about my next dog, a puppy probably. They are checking out their favorite breeders and in one case awaiting a litter of pups sometime in May. It seems impossible to replace Magnus, and yet, that is what I thought when Byron died at 15 and a half. Yet I hardly think of him except that he is on my phone screen.
Life goes on. I play the music that pleases me and lifts my spirits. I smell flowers and cook an enriching and delicious soup. As I write this, a pot is simmering on the stove sending out fragrant traces of itself.
I will smile and laugh spontaneously once again, I will love a new dog, and I will be grateful for the one who is no longer with me. He brought me joy! Joy is my natural favorite feeling. Under the sadness, I see it, I feel it, like a seed that lies dormant in winter, it will break through the thick layer of grief one day soon. I will always remember and love Magnus, but I am looking forward to the next dog chapter in my life as soon as I am ready.
Copyright©. 2023 Bonnie B. Matheson