On Being Dogless
This past Friday, Garrett and Hotness and I boarded Garrett’s last flight. Detroit to St. Louis. And for his last flight, Garrett got to ride first class; always welcome when there is a 75 lb. dog by my side…and even when there is not!
Once In St. Louis, we checked into our hotel room. Hotness immediately got Garrett a bowl of water, as is our M.O. when travelling. I bent down and took his harness off for the last time, all while being fully mindful that this would, indeed, be the last time Garrett wore his working uniform.
For the next hour, Marvelyne and I sat on the floor with Garrett between us. As we petted him, held his paws and rubbed his tummy, we thanked him over and over.
Thank you for letting us be your human parents,
thank you for being my Seeing Eye dog, but also a part of all of our family,
thank you for keeping me safe while traveling,
thank you for always keeping me safe while we lived in Manhattan,
thank you for always being sweet and kind and cuddly,
thank you for all the laughs you, Garrett, have given us over the last six years,
thank you for your six years of faithful service.
how we have loved you and how you have loved us.
I couldn’t have asked for a better guide
and we could not have asked for a better dog.
Tears were flowing and we were so desperately, desperately sad.
Jenny arrived to our hotel and Garrett greeted her with wickets. We chatted about his quirks, things Jenny and her family should know about his habits, feeding schedule, all that sort of stuff. Garrett is quite adaptable and, of course, I’ve never once worried if he was going to a loving, caring home. This gave me comfort, yes, but it was still such a shock to the system when he finally walked out the door.
Hotness and I busied ourselves for a minute or two with unpacking, totally trying to deny his absence and our loss. It was impossible. I went to her and we hugged and sobbed. We kept telling one another how lucky we’ve been to have Garrett in our lives, but it doesn’t take away the loss. We had dinner at the hotel and curled up for an early bedtime. Tears were still plentiful.
The next morning, we flew to Seattle. Hotness slept and I distracted myself with work and reading. A long flight, a quick meal out and then back to the hotel to try to fight off the jet lag. Inside the room, I felt my way over to the bed and bent over to pet Garrett. My hands came up empty. Crushing realization, once again, that Garrett is gone. I knelt down next to the bed and just let the tears come. Meanwhile, Marvelyne had walked into the bathroom and started to fill G’s water bowl…only to remember.
Again, we both just held onto one another and cried and practiced gratitude for all he brought to our lives.
Tuesday morning, I keynoted for Multicare, a healthcare system in the Pacific Northwest. I believe that in the last six years, I’ve only given two keynotes without Garrett by my side. Once at University of Hawaii and one at St. Louis University’s campus in Madrid, Spain. I believe in transparency and authenticity, so within the first minute or two of speaking, I shared with the audience how naked it felt to stand on a stage without Garrett.
When I shared the story of Jenny and “I’m Here”, I finished by telling how Garrett had retired to her home. The audience simply erupted with applause and (I like to think) with love.
Since his retirement, I’ve received a text or two from Jenny saying he’s doing great. She also sent along a pic of her tween daughter curled up with Garrett and their other two dogs.
I know he is loved.
We finally arrived home around 2:30am. It was ridiculously late and all I wanted was to distract myself long enough to crawl into bed and sleep. I did not want to think about coming into the house, seeing his empty bowls, missing seeing him greet our other two dogs, etc. Almost out of force of habit, I had to stop myself from filling up his water bowl and opening the back door so he could have his nightly pee break. Waking up this morning, there was no wet nose stuck in my face. There was no trip to his dog food bucket and his bowl. There was no trip to the back door to let him out. His absence is deafening.
Life goes on. I think the Beatles said that. Life goes on…but I miss him terribly.