My dog died over the summer. Did I tell you? I miss him a lot. The damn vet fucked up big-time and didn't refer Benji to a specialist soon enough. A week after he did, Benji was in such bad condition, lapsing in and out of consciousness, that we had to euthanize him. I couldn't watch him die, like my parents did, but I played the piano for him. I used to ask him “Do you wanna go play the piano?” and he'd come running and walk around in a circle and plop down. In his last week he barely moved, and finally wasn't able to move up and down the stairs. He stayed in the corner of loft by the sun, against the wall, eyes falling and rising, tongue panting. It was hard for me to play those last few weeks. When he was healthy I would stop between pieces and he would “belly-dance” for me, indicating I should “give him a tummy-wubby.” He couldn't do that anymore. Instead I got up and walked over to him, kissed him on the head, and cried.

He didn't go willingly. We called a traveling euthanist (word exists?) to put him down, and well after the injection he suddenly bit the guy's hand. I like to think of this as an example of Benji's desire to live. I was told about it afterwards, and laughed while I was crying. Somehow, it reinforced my image of him when alive, and I could now remember his vitality even in death. We buried him in the ravine behind the house, the spot marked with a stick such as he would have hoisted proudly in his glory days.

The mini-fence around the “garden” was taken down — no need for it any more. We've kept his food and water bowls and leash and heartworm pills where they always were, and we haven't yet washed off the dark spots on the white drywall where he used to recline. We kept dog-related cartoons on his “bulletin board” on the kitchen wall by his dining area, and now we're framing it. But no one barks at the sound of the lifted fence, no one prances into the room and licks my knees, no one cowers in terror from the vacuum (which doesn't have to be used nearly as often), and no one sits on my feet at the piano. As I clean my room, I keep finding new pictures of him. We don't have many, maybe fifteen at most.

We got a good ten years out of our friend. But it should have been more.