I put down macaroni today

Macaroni (1996 – Aug. 3, 2011

…. he was 15 … a black lab mutt i had rescued when he was 10 + from an older woman in grass valley who had a 10-acre ranch full to overflowing with dogs she rescued from the grips of being euthanized. i took him in as a favor to her when she went back east for five weeks. I never gave him back.

He was a calming companion to my other rescue, the agitated, fear-aggressive separation-anxiety-ridden always-in-your-face Stella. He was kinda like Seabiscuit’s companion horse ,Pumpkin. He calmed her down and she revved him up. But I don’t think they ever played together a day in over four years together. By the end, though, it was obvious they belonged to each other. Like two battered and bunion-nosed slippers.

I put down Macaroni today. This morning — I had not been able to sleep all night. He just couldn’t get up. He’d been failing badly over the past weeks .. I’d just forked out $400 for intravenous fluids and meds for a case of what we thought was giardia but I now think was probably the beginning of his body just giving out on him. By 6 this morning, both Stella and I were lying on the floor beside him. His head was heavy on my arm. At one point his ear (god, he had the softest black ears) slipped into the water bowl.

I waited until 8:30 and called the vet and then called my daughter. When she first met Macaroni, we decided to nickname him Benjamin Buttons. Though she spent very little time with him, she was so shocked she wanted to fly home from Denver. “He can’t die,” she said. “He’s Benjamin Buttons!” She pleaded with me to keep him alive so she could say good-bye.

Right. She’s 26. Just out of grad school Just landed a full time job.

It wasn’t in the cards.

She called back. “If you take him, bring his bed so he’ll think he’s still at home.”

I did.

I put down Macaroni today. Right before they came in with the needles, I snapped a picture of his darling old face with my cell phone. I sat down beside him and told him not to worry because he’d come back again soon. He’d find me again. “Remember how I told you the stories about how Bobo came back for our old sheepdog Willie, and found us all the way out at Agate Beach in the middle of the night during a thunderstorm?” I asked. “Don’t worry, Mac. Stella and I’ll wait for you.”

It was the first time I’ve had to put down a pet without a family member beside me. Someone to mourn with. I didn’t ask for any special cremation. I’ve done that number before. Its just damn ashes. I sat by his side when they injected the lethal concoction and his body was cold within five minutes. It is just an unearthly experience to watch as life leaves the body. All that remained was this sack of fur.

Stella: Always in charge, ever confident. Alpha all the way ….

Macaroni isn’t here tonight and the house is so cold and Stella and I are just so alone. I just wish I had been more patient as he aged. Less grumpy. More affectionate. I hope he forgives me. I did the best I could. Stella had such a demanding personality. She had him so scared at times, I’d have to give him his treats outside, he was so afraid she’d snap ’em away from him. He tiptoed around her like she was a goddess. Adored her like she was one, too.

It was always Stella getting sick, tearing ligaments, hovering near death. It was always Macaroni in the waiting room with me, or spending an overnight with her in a pet hospital. Worrying away. Staring at the door. Vigilant. Listening. Always knew she was coming out long before I heard anything.

He never got sick. He had cataracts for years. Pretended when he wanted to that he could no longer hear. He loved riding in the car.

He loved rolling in the grass. Having the top of his head rubbed. Scavenging for garbage underneath the bushes along the path … disappearing whenever I was rushing along on a brisk walk before a work out at the gym.

I put Macaroni down today. From the time he came to live with me, he never wore a leash.

That says a lot.

Stella and I miss you, Macaroni. Come home. SOON!

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