“There's a race of men that don't fit in, A race that can't sit still; So they break the hearts of kith and kin, And they roam the world at will. They range the field and rove the flood, And they climb the mountain's crest; Their's is the curse of the gypsy blood, And they don't know how to rest.”
- Robert Service

Friday, 29 March 2013


Adventuring aside, February was a hard month for me. Only a few weeks earlier our family dog, Bert, was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. He was an otherwise very healthy little doggert despite being nearly 12 years old, so the thought that he would leave us so prematurely was a hard pill to swallow. The sting of it all was that he might have lasted much longer, except that his very swollen lymph nodes in his neck were occluding his airway and making it very difficult for him to breathe. Lucky for him he loved to be outside anyway, and the cool air helped to constrict swollen glands and open things up for him. But, he didn't sleep outside at night, and he had a terrible time of it. After two and a half weeks, I think he was becoming terribly exhausted. I caught him sitting out on the front step, still trying to keep an eye on the comings and goings, waiting for the mailman and the meter-reader, and doing the gentle head-bob of someone who was trying their best not to fall asleep while sitting up.

Before I had to come back to Vancouver, my dad and I made the last trip to the vet with Bert. I won't go into it too much because I'm still quite sore about it myself. I'm not sure if Bert knew what was going on at all, but he must have known something was up because I was entirely blubbery. It was quite quick - something I'm both happy for, and sad about - one minute he was with us, and the next minute - because I'd given the nod to go ahead -  he was gone. I wrapped him up like a little burrito, the way I do with the babies at work to keep them warm and safe.

This was an entirely different experience with death for me. With the others I was much more accepting; they were people whose time it was to see their new adventure. It was sad, but expected. You could rationalize it easily. With Bert, it was just sad, and too quick, and I definitely wished I could talk to him about it. The best I could do was to feed him soft duck paté and snuggle him in a blanket.

Bert was a dog who wasn't ever really interested in cuddling or obeying, and he prefered to sit on the porch alone in the cold, but he was most definitely a part of our family. Actually, the fact that he was an oddball probably made him more like a mamber of our family than any other dog might be. We're very accepting of people who don't fit in to social norms, you see.

May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

1 comment: