Goodnight, Harley

Said goodbye to Boomer’s uncle tonight. He doesn’t look like this any more. His body is a mishmash of bone & bloating; the cancer started as an inch wide mass on his nutsack in September & now it’s in his liver & kidneys. He’s not in excessive pain but he can’t breath & he’s exhausted. He got up for me & I snuck him some turkey meat but he didn’t smile once tonight. Hopefully my dad takes him for his final vet visit in a few days because it sucks seeing this gentle giant this way.

I explained the situation to my 4 year old nephew, who is old enough to learn about this stuff. Payton got it. He insisted we go & talk to Harley some more. I had to tell him to stop touching the swollen areas, stop trying to get Harley to stand up, but he was sad, & as we walked back to his room he discussed the implications of Harley’s departure. I know he’ll think more on it.

The first time the family dog, Tuffy, fell down & couldn’t get back up, I was 10 years old. I went into hysterics. I couldn’t be calmed down for the rest of the night. I was 10 years old. I was really smart. And it had never once occurred to me that Tuffy might die. No one had ever told me. So I think it’s one of those things that you gotta tell your kids if there’s a dog they love. Tuffy was the first living creature in the world who thought I was a great singer. He would have (& tried to) kill anyone who so much as touched me (really screwed up on one of my toddler play dates). Payton’s not as close to Harley as I was to Tuffy, but he still deserves to learn about Harley dying. We all have dogs. He’s gonna see more of this.

Harley, like his brother Gunner (Boomer’s dad), always had an incredibly amicable, gentle hearted nature. When Boomer was still a pup, there was a tsunami warning. My house is on the very border of the evacuation zone & just to be safe, we went to my parents’ house. I stayed with Boomer in the front courtyard, & when Harley lumbered over to the front door to check on us, Boomer just lost his shit. He’d never met his uncle. There was this 130 lb giant, standing on the other side of the security door, looking at us with mild curiosity. Boomer was easy to restrain back then, but he sure made a lot of noise.

Harley did the equivalent of a canine shrug, & he turned around & ambled away.

I never had more admiration for a dog.

I’m really gonna miss Harley. I’m gonna go hug my dogs now.

 

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