Nothing prepared me for Dino’s day. Nothing could have. What would?
How can anything simulate the feeling of a living, breathing entity, whom you care for on a level nearing your own blood, ceasing to exist before your own fucking eyes?
I saw him breath slower, as if he were simply going for a big snooze. Droopy eyes looked over at me, like he always did before he went to sleep–just to make sure I was still there I guess–and I could have sworn he winked one of his big browns at me. Then he took one long, deep breath, let it out in a puff. I laughed. He blew his big hound-dog ears up with a last breath; Signing off with a knee-slapper, classic Dino. I didn’t know.
Then he wasn’t doing anything. His belly wasn’t expanding anymore, he wouldn’t respond when I called his name. I screamed it. I patted his plush head like I would when he was under the weather, thinking maybe he fell ill and didn’t want to bother with my antics.
“Should I get some water?” I thought to myself.
In his later years, I would bring little bowls of water when he had one of his bad spells and didn’t want to move around much. The vet would always say it was just an infection and simply needed some antibiotics and some old-fashion rest for the pooch. Never failed though.
It made me think this was just another episode I had to watch. All I had to do was call mom, she’d get the meds from the vet and I simply had to wait, and try to comfort him, right?
I’d been wrong before.
When it finally hit me, when I let myself understand what had just taken place: Panic mode.
I ran around the house, not knowing what to do, calling random numbers hoping someone of importance picked up the phone.
911, no help, pet hospital (no car), parent’s place of business…
After several attempts of the operator trying to understand my garbled request, I got my mom on the line. Me: frantic, crying, shoving words in between heaving breaths.
“Dino, I think, I think he’s dead! Mom, please! Please, you gotta help him! Do something! Send someone! The fucking cavalry, a doctor, a med student! Someone! He looked like he was just going to sleep. But he never woke up! He never woke up, mom! Don’t you understand?! He wouldn’t move… ”
I remember her sounding almost unaffected; as if she had been expecting it all along.
“Sweetie, please, calm down, you won’t get anywhere with that foul mouth. Now, he was twelve years old! He lived a full life for a Basset and at least he went on his own time. Just be happy you were with him in the end. I’ll be home soon, dear, then your father and I will take care of things, I promise. Just please, try to stay calm… Honey? Are you there? Sweetie, please say something… Franky!“
I heard her, loud and clear, but my mind was in turmoil. Something was happening. There were too many emotions to poke at and as I was attempting to find some morsel of the English language to communicate to her what I felt, I blacked out. That was all I remembered up until several hours later…