Before and After

My last month there were lots of trips to the vet.  I ate mozzarella cheese even though I knew there was a pill hidden inside.  I ate canned food mixed with my favorite green beans.  Sometimes I even ate the moist dog food packets.  I knew the other dogs envied my new food.  I no longer slept in my crate at night but had my memory foam dog bed in the master bedroom next to my mom's side of the bed.  I wore a dog diaper and was able to roam freely through the open dog door at any hour.  I could still bound down the slope in the backyard with my long ears flopping and howl at the sirens in the distance.  The other dogs in my family would join in, too.

My last week I took a trip to Florida to drop the younger English boy off at his new home.  I ate chicken and waffles for lunch outside of Warner Robbins, Georgia.  I rode in my favorite spot in the car, at the very back on my dog beds piled three high so I could look out the window.  I sniffed around a parking lot in Florida but the journey made me tired.  The Englishman found a vet that was open in Gainesville, Florida and we stopped for a visit.  I pretended that I needed to go outside and dragged my mom through the slick, black parking lot in the rain.  The vet gave me a pill and I felt better.  I had sausage and pancakes for dinner.

My last night, I couldn't sleep.  I went into the backyard that shimmered with the silver moon and howled.  My mom came out and got me.  She tucked another pill into cheese and brought me back to my dog bed.  I was restless so she pulled her pillow and blanket to the floor and slept beside me.  I fell asleep with my head on her chest.

My last morning, the Englishman made bacon for breakfast.  I had the lion's share.  The older English boy arrived and I had a video phone session with an old friend from England.  I was wrapped in my blanket and sat on my mom's lap for a final drive in the car.

The first hours after, we couldn't return to the house so we went to a movie.  I don't think either of us remember it.  The Englishman secured a small orange collar with dog tags dangling like a miniature wind chime around his wrist.

The first day after, the Englishman had to leave on a business trip.  As I sat in the living room, I heard a voice clearly stating "I love you".  Gathering my courage, I went to the kitchen to explore and found Molly, holding a Build-A-Bear teddy bear that George had cherished.  I didn't realize the bear talked and Molly had set off the trigger.  I later found Chase staring at George's crate relentlessly.  I had to move it to another room.

The first week after, I returned to the vet's office and picked up a small box.  I couldn't speak.  I sat in the parking lot and cried.  I then placed the box in the passenger seat and took a slow drive around town with my former friend riding shotgun. He would have approved.

The first months after, the house was so quiet.  Sirens would sound and the three dogs wouldn't even blink.  The silence seemed so loud.  I would return home from work and remove four treats from the jar on the counter, remember and slowly put one back.  My hand naturally held four.  We folded one dog crate and stored it in the basement.  I still had his small pillow at the foot of our bed.  The material still smelled like him.

Ten months after, I heard Charlie start to howl from the deck.  He hadn't forgotten.  I looked at the Englishman and he said, "I was thinking of him, too".

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