|"Eeewwww, Toby, leave it!"|
Today, though, I'm sharing a story about a day when I didn't - couldn't - clean up after my dog.
Kasey and I were slowly trudging home on what would be Kasey's last walk. I had chosen to go just around the block - but even that distance was proving too much for my exhausted dog. He was too heavy to carry. I let him rest when he had to (mentally kicking myself). Finally, we were about to turn the last corner for home, just half a street from home.
|Kasey, looking wise and noble.|
We passed an immaculately groomed yard being tended by the homeowner. This yard has literally won the community "Yard of the Month" contest. True suburbanites, we lived half a block apart and therefore of course had never met. I was prepared to wave if she looked up from her weeding but she was absorbed in her task. She glanced up just as we plodded by her mailbox.
At that moment poor Kasey let loose a wide spray of mustard colored diarrhea. He looked as mortified as I felt. Kasey had always been perfectly house trained. He was a bit embarrassed about going publicly anyway, and seemed to sense that this was not a normal situation. Meanwhile my mind was racing - what should I do? I mean, there is no possible way to clean this up without a hose...and Kasey still needs to get home...maybe if I brought back a bucket?
Our neighbor approached as I babbled apologies and explanations: my dog is sick, he has cancer, can I borrow your hose, I feel awful... She could have yelled at me or said something nasty. However, in a calm voice, looking less than thrilled, she said, "Don't worry, I'll take care of it. Really. I've got it, I'll clean it up." From a practical standpoint there wasn't anything I could do to help, so with a last apology Kasey and I crept around the corner.
Later that day I bought a pot of miniature roses and the prettiest thank-you card I could find, wrote a note expressing my thanks for her gracious response to a horribly embarrassing experience, and left them on her front porch. Every time we pass her house I think of her kindness in not expressing the disgust she must have been feeling.
This incident makes me even more ashamed in hindsight. It should have told me that Kasey's battle with lymphoma was over. He could not even enjoy his favorite activity, his daily walk. He must have been making a powerful effort to control his bowels in the house, which he did right to the end. But I couldn't bear to let him go for another week.
If there is a moral here, maybe it is that we all fall short of our own expectations sometimes. When it happens, we need understanding and forgiveness. We need grace.
|A selfie in a park near our vet's office before one of Kasey's last visits. Kasey still looks well. I'm trying hard to smile but you can see the sadness in my eyes.|