Hoku was not a pup for me. I was a cat person. I would not love her. It was something my husband had cooked up to torture me with. She was “just” a dog. 

How wrong I was. 

Hoku had blue eyes. Not a normal color for a dog’s eyes. When we realized that her mellowness, for which she was chosen from the litter by the kid’s Dad, was something more troubling it led us to a surgery to try and restore her sight. That very expensive surgery when we had little enough money to buy food month to month was when I knew I’d been suckered in by that tiny black pipsqueak of a dog. I would do anything for her. 

After 24 years (15 of them with Hoku in them) of being tethered to a life of rythmn I am suddenly cut free from a world of schedules and considerations about her needs and a considerable amount of dog hair and poop   The kids have woven themselves in and out of our daily existence but Hoku was a constant. Everyday she needed food and to be let out and cuddled. She stopped meeting me at the door each day several years ago. Demanding to know where the hell I had been.  Now She lifted her head from her bed and then wandered, slowly, to me instead. 

The years had been very kind to Hoku. She was remarkably illness free through out her life despite her start. Her eyes over the years went white and sunk into her head but her coat remained lovely and she also remained lovely and regal. Even when she began to struggle to get up. 

In many ways Hoku is or was the last tie to my children’s childhood. When I divorced their father and we three decided to sleep in the same room, on futons, the girls slept as a Hoku sandwich. We were broken but her continuity was part of our healing. 

The last year there was a lot of talk about when was the right time to discuss her end. Marc and I privately hoped she would go in her sleep. Marc, being a diabetic who sometimes needs to rearrange his blood sugar in the middle of the night, has lost his night time companion. A loss of unimaginable pain. I no longer have the burden of arranging for her care in our absence but it doesn’t feel like I am free. I feel sad. 

I’m guessing the lack of dog hair management and poop pick up will begin to feel like time returned some day. Right now it just hurts to think. Yesterday we drank Dog Farts at Hoku’s wake and the strong drink was good for me. I went home and slept and instead of chasing away the sadness I just felt sad. I wasn’t up to doing much so I just didn’t. 

Hoku ended her days with us the same way she began them. She opened our hearts to unbounded love and tenderness and that gave way to our grief as we said goodbye.  After a diagnosis of torsion we knew we couldn’t let her suffer along to suit our desire to keep her near. 

I’m still a cat person. But my life was forever changed by this good, sweet dog. Someday when I don’t feel I have the wanderlust I do now WE may get another dog. Right now the open road beckons me and I want to keep my options open for travel and classes that don’t require me to do the calculus of travel time to let the dog out or if she is lonely and needs love. The last time I had that freedom I was 33.  I’m now 57. 

I hope there is a heaven for dogs. Certainly Hoku deserves to be there. 

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