Sunday, September 13, 2009

a forest of thistles

Early last evening while Miss D and I were out for a stroll in the park we ran into a man with a 10 week old chocolate lab puppy. Miss D loves puppies. I don't really know much about this man, I do know that he comes from Alberta, that he drives a pick-up truck and he looks kind of like a cowboy, without the hat. He's someone I've chatted with in line at the grocery store and in the parking lot at the hardware store. We always talked about dogs. He would comment about Winnie sitting up so straight and proud in the drivers side seat of my old teal coloured Ford Escort wagon ... patiently waiting for me. I told him about her fear and mistrust of people and he told me about his black lab Abby who was just the opposite, she loved people but had a difficult and sometimes aggressive fear of other dogs.

Last night after the initial flurry of wriggling, puppy-love welcome the man sat down on the grass beside us. I asked him all the expected questions - How old is she, what's her name, where did she come from ? and then I blurted out Do you still have your other dog ?

His head immediately fell, his face hung down toward the grass and there was a long awkward silence. He couldn't speak, when he turned his face back toward mine I saw that big fat tears were spurting from his eyes ... and he couldn't talk. So I answered for him. He eventually was able to tell me that he had to euthanize Abby at the end of July - she was 11. I told him about my big love and how I still cry often - I miss him so much, I miss the essence of him. I told this man, because I thought that he might understand, how it felt to me like I was in love with my dog, my dog Jake. It felt like I loved that dog with a bigger love than I'd ever known and how in the beginning I wondered how would I ever live without him. He told me that the day he said goodbye to Abby he'd gone to the post office and there on the little bulletin board was a homemade poster with a photo, advertising lab puppies. I told him I'd seen it. He said he'd never had a puppy before, he'd always had adult rescue dogs and I told him, me too and I shared my own dreams of a little red puppy.

I still don't know the man's name ... his chocolate puppy's name is Bess.

There is a sacredness in tears.
They are not the mark of weakness, but of power.

They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues.
They are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love.

Washington Irving


  1. I still say both you and Miss D need to get a red puppy! :)

  2. That brought tears to my eyes. I agree with getting a red puppy.

  3. oh, susan, i'm feeling that overwhelming grief today myself. i had to put my sweet presley down yesterday. the grief comes in waves but so far i've held strong against them. presley was so very strong for me right to the end. i now have to be strong the strong one.

  4. What a touching story, Susan. It's time to ask the man his name...grief bonds. Love the photos...the color is so intense.

  5. Red Puppy sounds gr8!! Get one soon..:)
    The post did make me shed a tear but the ending brought a smile to my curve!!
    Cute post..:)
    My condolences to the cowboy...!
    Keep writing!!

  6. Susan, this brought tears to my eyes, too. Poor guy, missing Abby. I know you understood, and he knew it too.

  7. That was quite a moment the two of you shared. I think strong bonds have started to forge.

  8. Now the next step is to find out his name - because you both know grief, so it would be good to know each other.

  9. Susan, I have said it before, and I say it again...You are a born writer. I have cried over this post more than any you have written, but it is a bittersweet type of crying. I know this is a cliche' , but you can't have great love without great sorrow.

    Julie, I am so very sorry about Presley. I always have rescue dogs, too, but I would absolutely LOVE a little wiggling red puppy. It makes no sense at all, but love never does.

    I will cherish this post today, and will save it. You really helped the man...probably more than you can imagine.

  10. I missed this post on Sunday Susan!
    How kind you were to the Cowboy in his fresh, raw grief...I know it helped you as well.

    I believe when the time is right and it is meant to be the new red dog will come and all you can do is stand still and welcome him with open arms, heart and mind! I don't believe there are any accidents in this world.

  11. Oh yes to that above comment--grief does indeed bond! I'm so glad you linked back to this post as I had missed it.

  12. it absolutely began here Susan..... I remember telling Greg after I read it ...... this could be the start of something special....


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