Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Death And The Life And The Legacy Of The Tuti--

I got a letter this afternoon without a return address on it. I wondered what mischievous entity sent it to me and I opened it with that “weird” feeling one gets in their stomachs when stuff comes out of the blue.

“Congratulations!” the letter started. “We have selected your beautiful pet to be on our calendar…”

I had won.

For the second time in as many contests that I had entered, I had won. “Wow,” I thought. “I am on a roll!”

A long time ago, I entered a picture of Tuti in a contest to win dog food and a calendar. My dog-sister Sandy had sent me the link, and said “Enter Tuti. I think she’ll win.”

I pulled out a picture and sent it off, and pretty much forgot about it.

Tuti came back a winner today and within a minute of reading about how Tuti was a winning, photogenic dog, the power went off.
Someone hit a power pole down the road in the rain. We were out of power until half an hour ago. The rain fell in musical notes about our property while the house grew dark and quiet and my mind was set to recollect the dog that made me cry when she was alive, and made me cry even more when she died.

I spent the quiet, electricity-less afternoon and evening thinking about a lost friend. A tear or two came. A smile or two as well. I thought about the day she died and felt like it was time to write about it.

If only the damn power would come back on…

Mum and I did a crossword with a flashlight and a candle. We didn’t finish it, but we weren’t intending to. While we laughed and fretted, looking for five and seven letter words for arcane clues, I thought about watching my Mum in the hospital bed, the nurses telling me how sorry they were, the doctor’s very unoptimistic, and about how close she came to dying. I thought about Tuti, and how she died so suddenly and unexpectedly, staring up at me with a happy smile on her face… and then a convulsion racked her and a bit of water spewed from her mouth and then nothing.

And now I sit here, happy to have light and a computer, the thought of those last moments clear in my mind. My thoughts- as a man who loved his dog- making my eyes well up in a sort of melancholy secondary grief.

Tuti was sick and I knew it. She was limping heavily on her left front shoulder and her arm seemed to hurt her. She was a malnourished puppy when I found and rescued her, and she had hip problems and wrist problems from time to time. My first thought was that she had hurt her shoulder the same way she hurt other parts of her.

Then she wouldn’t eat her dinner and her nose felt fevered. The next day, while I ate my lunch under the shade in the hot summer, she came to me and looked at me and I knew she was very ill. I picked her up and carried her to her favorite spot- an older couch we had moved out of the house and out into the apartment I stayed in attached to the garage. I placed Tuti down and knew that she was very sick. I talked to her and looked into her eyes.

She knew more than I did, about what was to come.
It was hot so I gathered water and a wash cloth and wiped her down with it, placing cooling water on her forehead. She seemed to like this. She kept her eyes trained on me as I knelt there, trying to make her comfortable.

I got up and went into the house and grabbed the phone and the phone book.

I needed to call an emergency vet. I brought them out to where Tuti was and she had staggered down from the couch and was looking for me. She could barely stand or walk, but she needed to be with me. I held water to her mouth and she drank a few swallows. I picked her up and put her back on the couch. I put the phone and the phone book down and just sat with her, my face next to hers. I told her that I loved her.

“Oh my Tuti…” I said to her, over and over.

She had no energy to do anything but lie there, but her eyes were on my face always.

I stroked her and made her feel how much I loved her. She spasmed.

A small amount of water came up out of her mouth.

She was gone.

The beginning of her life must have been horrible. I found her as an abandoned puppy, emaciated and covered in fleas and ticks. She was intensely fearful of humans, and yet, she found me wanting me to find her.

The end of her life was peaceful and full of love. She died too young, as she was only six when she died, but she died in a good place and in a good way.

I still cry sometimes when something jars me and reminds me of her spirit and the way she went through life- a little different- a little “touched”.

I think about her body stiffening up, and me watching the process of death in a state of loss and grief.

I grabbed a shovel and went out into the yard. I dug and dug. Blisters came on my calloused hands and I just kept digging. Tuti needed a proper resting place. I dug and dug until the blisters were torn, and then I taped them up, and dug some more.

There is nothing ultimately profound in death.

There is only the living, who feel the loss.


Bernita said...

Made me cry.

Jeannie said...

Me too.

amusing said...

I'm glad you felt like it was time. I'm glad the blisters have healed. And that the tree is growing.

meno said...

Still crying.

How much you loved her speaks well of you.

liv said...

what a beautiful post. 2007 has been a year of loss for so many of us. my wish for us all is that 2008 brings great things and opportunities.

Billy said...

I cried for three months when my 19 yr. old tabby died. It's very painful to go through such a loss. Your words are a fitting testament to the love you had for Tuti.

CS said...

Which of the Tuti photos won? She's a gorgeous dog, what a nice memorial to have her on a calendar.

Stucco said...

Dogs are wonderful creatures. People, perhaps not so much. It reflects well on you that you connected with Tuti and gave her a loving home. Having a pet die that way is possibly more heart-wrenching than a person, since a dog can't tell you clearly what they are thinking.

Tammie Jean said...

Aw... beautiful post, Scott. Made me cry. I cry sometimes because my 2 pups are getting old - the little guy walking into walls because of the cataracts, the big guy taking meds for arthritis, kidneys and breathing problems. I know we probably don't have a lot of time left together, so I just try to give them all the love I can. Like CS, I'd love to know which photo won!

Jean said...

I love the photo of her resting on the statue.
...and, like many already said, your love for her says much about you.

Scott from Oregon said...

Thanks Y'all!

The photo I entered is the one on the beach. The sleeping photo was shot in film so was not illegible as a scan...

Mushy said...

Again I'm reminded of my Lacy, who passed in 2002. I held her head and told her I loved her as she exhaled her final breath.

This past week I bought a VHS to DVD unit and have been dubbing old tapes. On them were joyful minutes of her having the time of her life play fighting with my older male dog. Somehow they were comforting and I could have watched them play for hours.

Tom C said...

Damn! A lib that rescues? I'm moved Snott. Might be some hope for you yet. Peace be with you and yours this Christmas Snott!

Cheesy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheesy said...

{{{{sweety}}}}}} I feel blessed I was able to spend a day at the beach with your silly lil' sweet Tuti.... I too am glad your heart is healing.
And now she is a star!! How fitting~~

little things said...

Excellent writing today, Scott. I admit I cry every time we lost a rodent. It's amazing how animals possess the capacity to make us feel.
It's me, by the way. Come visit...

travis tee said...

Ooops...come visit me now.

kario said...

Thanks for sharing the story. I hope that writing it gave you some measure of peace. I love the dichotomy of reading that she'd won a place in the calendar and the power going out. I love that it gave you time to reflect on her life before writing. I love that you and your mom did a crossword puzzle together. Sounds like a terrific day. Something tells me you could go a step further and submit the story of Tuti's life and death to a magazine and honor her even more.

Kris, Seattle said...

There is nothing ultimately profound in death. Maybe.

Profound is the only word I know of to describe the sensation of witnessing death. The whole circle of life thing I guess is what I am thinking of. Maybe that is where the profundity comes in.

Tuti had a great life because of you, and your life was better for having had Tuti in it. Its a wonderful and fitting memorial to her that she will be remembered on a calendar - after all, she did spend quite a bit of mugging for your camera.

Sabra said...

Scott, belated sympathies to you and big hugs, too! I am so sorry for your loss of Tuti.