It is the 31. of July 2017, and this early morning around 6:45 my dog died in my arms.
One Winter day in 2006 I ventured a few miles out of Fairbanks and picked up a little german shepherd. We had just moved to Alaska a few months before, and lived in a cabin near Ester with our two little daughters. We named him Ivan.
Shortly after, I started working at the Artisan’s Courtyard close to the University of Alaska, as an artistic coordinator. My boss was fantastic. She had built a beautiful office for me inside the existing lobby area, and had it painted in warm tones of dark plum, light driftwood and darkest violet which appeared almost black. I turned it into a little haven which Ivan shared with me almost every day for several years. Girls visiting the ballet classes would often arrive early with their moms, to spend some time with him. Ivan had been told many stories during those days, and never lost patience. He must have liked fairytales and little girls smelling like candy.
In the early months, we would have to step out of the cabin at all hours of the night, since he had to go potty often. Potty training doesn’t care if it is -30 degrees. Many times I would stand outside in my pajama’s with the arctic parka thrown over it, and watched the northern lights while little Ivan in his fleece booties finished his business. When he was a puppy, I always thought he looked a little like Alf from that 80’s kids-show. I would tell him that, and he would tilt his little head with the floppy ears, and look at me with his beautiful brown eyes, listening carefully to every word I said.
Ivan was my shadow from the first day on, and we didn’t part much. He was our protector, my best friend, my companion. We took care of each other, and explored the world around us on long walks through the woods along the river.
The seasons would come and go, and with it some changes, but Ivan would never be far from me. He didn’t like being left behind, and was a master in pouting when I didn’t take him on very cold or hot days to run errands. We would often drive to Denali, before or after the tourist season, and just hike some trails, or sit and look at the mountains. He loved the snow and would clear the trail for us many times, running and jumping in front of me like a big, furry snowplow.
One day I’d take the bike, and have him one the leash running next to me, when he saw a rabbit on the opposite side of the road, made a run for it, and I flew straight over the handlebar. I was just as graceful as he was, and there had been more than one close call when it came to falling of off moving objects, glacier river banks or simply stumbling over my own feet. Ivan could smell a moose from a mile away, and I would know we’d better walk the other direction. There has not been a day over the past 11 years where he was not on my mind in one way or the other.
Ivan was afraid of two things, thunderstorms and my ex husband. He would often involuntarily urinate on the carpet at the door when he just saw him, and of course get punished for it. He would call Ivan up to him almost every night, to the couch where he sat to watch TV, and press his gums into his teeth with his right hand. Ivan had an overbite, and he made fun of him when he cried out, and would call him a shithead. Even in company. He thought that was funny. Every time I told him to stop, he’d say, “Look at him, he’s a baby!” He said he would kill Ivan if he would ever bite him. Ivan was kind, loyal and protective, and him being protective over me got him into trouble some days. I held him close to me, in order for him to be quiet, and not give my ex husband cause to be nasty, and just tried to take him wherever I went.
It wasn’t that he didn’t like him I guess. I believe he didn’t like the fact that Ivan was loyal to me, and didn’t always listen to him, but look at me for a command, plus the fact that dogs do what dogs do, having accidents, barking or chewing something up when they are puppies. But at the end: Yes, what the hell!!
So here we go back again to where I in another article from my script wrote about ‘DESERVING’ to be treated a certain way. He didn’t listen good enough and whatever else, and that was reason to be mistreated. I am writing about this example, because if anybody ever, ever mistreats your pet and waves it off as a joke on daily bases: AGAIN RUN!
Now you must be saying:
“What the heck, woman!!!?” Well, we had kids, and I had always believed since I was in no way perfect, that somehow I must be doing something terribly wrong. That it must be me. That I deserved this?! That I am overreacting?! That I am crazy?! That he is not always like this?! He will change?! The list goes on. Even I saw what I saw, and knew where things were off, and I stopped them. I still hoped.
I did leave not long after.
When we left Alaska, and for many other reasons and differences on both sides, but that would fall under a different segment of the script.
It is the 31. of July of 2017, and this early morning around 6:45 my dog died in my arms. He was 11 years old. Yesterday he ventured once more outside, and we sat together in the warm breeze, he even took one treat. When we were inside he looked at me from underneath the table, and I kneeled in front of him, and I knew it was time.
I said: ” I know, Ivan. I know. I am here. I am not going anywhere. I love you.”
My husband and I slept downstairs with a candle, to provide dim light, and watched over him through the night. He had pain medication, and we tried to make him as comfortable as we could through the hours. He was old, and he was hurting, and he was tired, and while I am writing this, thinking long and hard about if this should be a part of my script to be published……. I hear a voice deep inside saying: YES!!
So, please, if you read this, take something with you! Whatever message it may gave you, and whoever it might be for in your life!
Love and Strength! Simone’