21 June 2010

A Remembrance

It is not a joke, or at least not a funny one, when I say that on Sunday of That Week I started a new job, on Tuesday my relationship ended, and on Thursday my dog died. But I can't help but laugh nervously when I recount it, because it's so completely absurd. I have processed (ugh, aren't we so, so, so tired of that word) a lot since then, but I have held a bit at bay. And I know I will cry the entire time I'm writing this, because I already am. It's stupid, I suppose, to force myself to do this, but it's one of the things I told myself I had to accomplish before I could move back to Midtown Lofts. I can't make a new home there until I've said goodbye to what won't be there when I return.

This is Viggo. This is our baby, we'd say. We were a typical childless, indulgent, 21st-century couple when it came to our dog. We spoiled him and talked to him, and talked about him, and took pictures of him, and bought him toys we knew he'd destroy in minutes. We went on long walks and runs with him, and let him offleash to chase bunnies on the greenway and fish at the lake (he could catch neither). He was exuberant and exasperating. He would sit by the side of the bed, his whines turning to full-fledged cries until I would kick up the duvet with my leg and he would hop onto the mattress, curl up and spend the night under the covers, his nose sticking out the foot of the bed only if it was a really warm night. He had no interest in getting up in the morning, and after we took him outside and he ate his breakfast, he was ready to go back under the covers for a couple more hours. After that he was a holy terror for the rest of the day.

Viggo was a very good dog. And he could be a very bad dog (see Indulgent Owners). He was the most beautiful Vizsla anyone had ever seen. He sat absolutely still—like a statue—on the front porch while people walked by, almost all of them commenting on his regal bearing. He howled on the first Wednesday of every month, at 1pm, as the tornado sirens were tested. Because he wasn't much of a howler, his attempts often ended in a cough, and he'd stare at me like it was my fault. Eric enjoyed tying our kitchen towels under his chin like a kerchief, and Viggo became the Polish grandmother we never had. Viggo enjoyed this not at all.

These pictures of him are the first I've looked at since he died, and seeing them is still almost more than I can bear. It will be a while before I can look at the many dozens hundreds of others I have. I can't write about the last few days and weeks of his life, except to say that he was a stunningly active, healthy six-year-old dog and he should still be here with me. His chin should be resting on my arm while I'm typing, and he should be grunting in annoyance while I play with his ears.

As much as I adored Viggo, I won't have another dog for a long time. My heart isn't big enough for another dog, because I still love Viggo so. I sometimes wonder if he knew that life was about to get very complicated, and bowed out gracefully, sparing us the one division of property that would have been impossible. That, besides making me sob uncontrollably (aren't you glad this isn't a video blog?) is also crazy-dog-person talk.

I am grateful for the years I had with my little family, and I miss it more than you can know. Hug your partner, and hug your kids, and hug your dog. There is no cynicism here, nor a clever ending. There is only love.


  1. I found out about Viggo's death before I found out about your break-up, so I immediately assumed that you had only been staying together for the dog. I therefore do not think it's even the tiniest bit crazy to think that Viggo bowed out gracefully in order to save you that which you could not bear.

    Love for our pets is, I think, among the most uncomplicated and therefore the purest love that we ever experience.

    In the first days after 9/11, when I was stuck in North Africa and worried literally sick about my friends at home in DC, and my country, and the future of the world as I knew it, and just couldn't stop watching CNN and crying endlessly, I finally had a very complicated dream about a tornado passing through my hometown, and my parents and my dog and I surviving by lying facedown next to each other on the basement floor. I woke up from that dream feeling at peace for the first time in days--the worst of the storm had passed over me and the beings who mattered most to me. This was particularly telling, since my dog had actually died 3.5 years earlier, in February 1998. (I try not to think too hard about the fact that my brother and sister were nowhere to be seen in this dream.)

  2. Beautiful Viggo, you are missed.

  3. Beautifully said - And I read it with one of my young "kids" draped over my arm. Tears are often therapeutic, even when we don't know we need that therapy. God bless you on your journey and your new directions.

  4. Just because it seems so right to say, I'll add "VIGGO VOLLEN ROHR, GET OFF THE COUNTER!!!". I loved that dog and he loved everyone you brought into your home. Especially toddlers with a Snack Trap full of Goldfish crackers and fingers sticky with pizza sauce.

  5. I remember reading about how Viggo had rearranged the very, very nice ceramic bowls on the counter without breaking a single one. I always thought that it was nice that he had an opinion about how the bowls should go. Very advanced, that Viggo.
    - knit night sarah

  6. What a beautiful post and what a GREAT dog. Viggo is so proud of you - guaranteed!

  7. There is no such thing as a crazy dog thought.They bring joy to all.

  8. Thanks for sharing these memories. When Eric first told me the news about that awful week, I asked him if he suddenly found himself listening to country music.

  9. Oh. Scott...
    You are welcome to come and visit us in Stockholm where my children (who think they are puppies) can be great therapy! The cute swedish boys and great bakeries and living by the Baltic might also help!



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