I already devoted part of a post some months ago to the topic of my dog's inevitable death and the effect it would have on me, so there's no need to rehash that here. It just seems perverse that dogs have such short life spans. It seems as perverse to me as if a human child were to die of old age when he was twelve. And now I have to wait so very, very long to see him again. I keep thinking about how I can no longer scratch his head and feel his cold, wet nose. I loved the feeling of his nose so much that I went out of my way to touch it with my arm whenever I scratched his head.
Milo was quite annoying at times. He constantly wanted attention, and if he came up to you and you didn't pay attention to him, he went and sulked. Sometimes, for reasons unknown to me, scratching his head would prompt him to start licking his lips noisily. We tried to discourage that by holding his mouth closed, and he got the message, so sometimes his tongue would just out and quiver as he visibly strained with the effort of not doing it. Why? Sometimes when I walked him, he would move behind me to my other side, so that I had to spin around so the leash wasn't behind me. When I could tell I was about to do that I would stop walking, and he would stop too, and we would have a brief stalemate. But even at the height of annoyance, it never obscured the feeling of love that was always present.
Milo's love was not unconditional, but was predicated on the right conditions. I fed him, walked him and lavished affection on him, and in return he loved me. So I had to do something to deserve that love, but nothing excessively difficult or arbitrary. I kind of like that even better than unconditional love because I don't see why I should feel particularly good about a love that would be the same if I were Hitler. This kind of love convinces me that I'm a good person but that I'm not expected to be perfect. I also felt my own love for Milo more overtly than for anyone else ever. I'm sure I love my family more, but that's more of the subdued taking-for-granted kind. Anyway, George Gordon Byron long ago expressed how I feel better than I or probably anyone else could.
Epitaph to a Dog
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.