"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding watercolor, metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Losing a friend

I watched the vet insert the needle into the catheter, and begin depressing the plunger.
My friend lay heavily sedated on the table, his breathing shallow. He wasn't in pain, but he'd been losing weight steadily and was barely eating.
It hurt to watch him walk, as he got weaker and more shaky. He was spending more and more time sleeping, between getting up to sip water and consider food. He knew he was sick, and why he was getting the special attention of treats and more attention. But he'd still stop and look you in the eyes, never wavering.
My friend Max
For years he had greeted me when I came home, loudly demanding attention, a "Hello," a head rub or ear scratch. In the evenings, he'd jump up on the couch or bed when I was reading, and doze off.
He could be quite annoying, as good friends often are. He'd loudly wake me in the mornings sometimes, just talking.  If we tried to go on a trip, he was likely to curl up in the open suitcase on the floor. As he got older, he reminded me of myself as he shed more hair, and sometimes couldn't keep his food down.
But you could count on him to be there, to say "Hello," to share affection. His grace and agility matched his genuine loyalty, affection and intelligence.
So I kept my hand on his head, gently talking to him, watching his breathing lessen and then stop.
The house seems empty. I feel empty. Good friends are hard to come by, and losing a friend reminds  how much we share precious and interconnected life, and the certainty of mortality.


  1. Sorry Terry, losing a loved pet is really hard.

  2. Good friends are hard to find, but they help create great memories. Nevertheless, I'm sorry for your loss, Dr. Clark.