Ellie sits on the bookshelf in my living room, or part of her does, at least. She sits on the shelf where I keep some of my favorite dog books. “Animal Happiness” by Vicki Hearne, “Old Yeller” (a second edition, no less), “Nops Trials”, “Dogs in Poetry”. She is in good company there, and I can see her when I sit and read. I like being able to look up and know she’s there, unobtrusive as always and just occasionally asking you to spare her a bit of time. Ever content with what little bits of time you can spare her, that was my Ellie.
We did indeed spread her ashes at Cherry Beach, setting her free on the waves, licking around the feet of silly wet puppies, brushing against the coats of diligent Goldens, barely disturbing the concentration of a frisbee mad standard Poodle. She is, perhaps, a part of them all now, part of the Lake and the sand and the plants she ran through. Part of her favorite place.
I didn’t write about it before, couldn’t write about it until now. I couldn’t put down in writing “And then we spread her ashes on the water”, because as anyone knows, when it’s written it becomes true. And I wasn’t ready for it to be true yet.
At the last minute, as Sean was spreading her, I told him to stop. I told him I wanted to keep part of her. He was puzzled, because I had been so adamant about letting her go free. I told him I needed part of her, that I couldn’t let all of her go. So we saved part of her, even though I know the best of her has long since floated off – across the lake, or wherever benevolent spirits like hers finally go.
Part of her though, is still here at home with me, along with her memory, which I keep close at hand always.
All of My Beautiful Dogs Are Dying
– Vicki Hearne
. . . Without the beautiful dogs
No one dares to attend to desire;
The sky retreats, will intend nothing,
It is a ceiling to rebuke the gaze,
Mock the poetry of knowledge.
My death is my last acquiescence;
Theirs is the sky’s renunciation,
Proof that the world is a scattered shame
Littering the heavens. The new dogs
Start to arise, but the sky must go
Deeply dark before the stars appear.