Things About Frank: Eulogy For a (nearly) Good Dog

On Friday afternoon we said goodbye to Frank the Bloodhound. I held his giant, slobbery face in my hands and kissed his big bear-nose and told him he was a good boy over and over as he took his last breath.

He tried to be a good boy. He wanted to be good. But being naughty was just more fun. This is one of the thinks about Frank that made me love him - because I can relate to that. He was so lovable and sweet if you could get past the slobber and the quirks and the dangerous clumsiness. He wanted to please, but deeper instincts drove him - instincts for late night swims in the river and the taste of a whole cube of butter off the counter - these outweighed his need to make anybody happy. He loved food. He loved water. He loved people, he loved other dogs and he even loved cats, in a weird way. Every morning, after waking me up with his big slobbery lips draped on my mattress, he would trot outside and give Jim Halpert a good nosing. Jim learned that running away was much less fun than being nosed somewhat roughly by a giant hound.

On Friday morning, Frank came to wake me up. He must not have slept more than a wink all night because he laid his head on my bed and couldn't keep his eyes open. He was so tired from trying to breathe. He stood in the kitchen and watched me make breakfast, and even though he eyed the (intentionally) unattended block of cream cheese on the counter, he couldn't muster the energy to reach up and taste it. It broke my heart. Choosing broke my heart. I have been having long talks with the Truck Hound about choosing, and how important it is, when his time comes, for him to choose, because I just don't think I can ever do it again.

I don't know if I will ever stop asking if I made the right choice or if there was something else. What if the vet was wrong? What if a miracle? What if... My heart feels like it will never be whole again. We had Frank for such a short time but he made such a big splash in our already messy lives. I feel lucky that he chose part of his short life to make ours so much sillier and more ridiculous. And whatever else, there's no question that he was loved and he was happy here.

I keep listening for him to go thundering through the house. It's painfully quiet here now. I haven't been able to bring myself to wash the muddy slobber stains off of my sheets, or the drool-flings off of the walls yet. I haven't even been able to muster up the will to vacuum the giant dust bunnies of Frank hair that will never be replaced. Maybe tomorrow I will. Or maybe not. Maybe I will keep them just a minute more.

I keep questioning why we do this, bring these creatures with such short life spans into our hearts and love them so much, but when I sat by the river today with Dagny and Old Man Truck I remembered why. It's the simple joy and unconditional passion they have for life. For us, their people. We, humans, complicate all of our feelings and duties and instincts and make everything harder than it probably needs to be. Dogs know better. They know there is nothing so wonderful as a nap in the sunshine or a muddy ball or a treat from the hand of someone they trust. Dogs don't care about baggage and futures and pasts and mistakes and worries. They just live. In every moment. With all of their hearts. Frank was the absolute best at this. We will miss him, but he certainly left his mark on us, on our windows and couches and beds and walls and most of all, on our hearts.

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