Independence Day.† July 4, 2012.† The Day I Died.
My name is Luna Belle Fisk.† Luna was my name when Stan adopted me.† He added Belle, which means beautiful, after he got to know me.†† I guess Iím a Fisk because Stan adopted me.† I was a good dog.
Iím telling you this now from a place I am growing more used to every hour.† Things are a lot clearer to me now than when I was alive.† Stan would enjoy it here.† One of the last things I heard him tell me was I hope to see you again in another place.† I wonder if this is what he meant.
Anyway, I didnít know that July 4th would be my last day on earth when I got up that morning.† Truthfully, I didnít even know it was July 4th, but in a sense it really would become my independence day.† I was up before Stan because I had to pee and then I just felt like walking around for awhile.† Shannonís dog, Kodi, was visiting for the weekend and he joined me outside.† He came home with Stan the night before.† I like Kodi.† He doesnít try to hog in on Stan when heís here.† Sure, he gets his time with him, I allowed that, but he never over did it, always allowing me my time with my favorite person.† We all went for a walk together down the street the night before.† That was fun.
But something was different about this morning.† I had this nagging feeling inside of me that something wasnít quite right.† Actually I have felt kind of this way for several months but I could never figure out what was bothering me. The nagging feeling was back and it was more intense than before and my legs, even though they felt weak, couldnít stop walking.
I paced all around the back yard then into and all around the house then back out again.† Stan was following after me sometimes asking me what was wrong.† I didnít know what was wrong.† I just felt like I had to keep walking.† I walked for hours.† Sometimes, when I stopped to rest, I thought my legs werenít going to work anymore.† They shook a lot but I kept moving forward.† My breathing was heaving and fast.
As I walked, I thought about all the good times I had in this yard;† Stan chasing me around, me playing I dare you with the lawnmower, running with Kodi and Joey and Clyde and Thor and Sammy.† Old friends.† Good times. Strange that I was thinking about those things that day.† Everywhere I went reminded me of something that had happened there.† Near the back door was the very first place I peed when Stan first brought me home.† My home.
I walked through each and every room of the house.† The porch looks so nice now, our bedroom with the cozy waterbed that I havenít been physically able to jump up on for a year or so now, my old favorite bedroom, Stan used to call it my room, and bed where I used to always mess up the sheets, the bathrooms, the computer room, the rearranged living room and all the places Stan used to hide when we played hide-and-seek.†† I sniffed and looked at them all.
†Stan was sitting in his favorite chair so I would go over to him and he would pet me behind my ears.† That always felt so good, but today it felt even better.† And somehow it felt like I wouldnít get many more chances to experience Stanís touch or go for a walk or have my hair brushed.† What is that feeling, I wondered?
So I paced some more.† Around the house,† out and around the yard.† The rests were becoming more frequent now and my breathing seemed to be harder and harder.† Stan was trying to get me to come into the living room and lie down but I just couldnít do that.† I had to keep moving.† I couldnít stop.† No matter what.
I paced for hours. I donít know what time I got up but Stan was up at 8:30. Did I refuse my treats in the morning when offered them to me?† I rarely do that. Only when Iím sick.† Hmm.† Why do I feel hazy and turned around.† Itís afternoon now and Stan has just cooked a steak.† I can smell it.† But I donít want any.† I had some liver and onions the night before.† Yum.† Even Kodi likes it.† But today I have no appetite whatsoever.†
I pace some more but by now Iím so tired I have to lie down.† I do so on the kitchen floor in front of the refrigerator.† The cool floor feels good on my belly.† Stan put a plate of finely cut steak pieces on my eating mat but I just lay still.† He pats my head for awhile but I donít move.† Finally he removes the food.† I donít care.
After 15 minutes or so my strength has come back and I slowly and carefully get up and pace into the bathroom.† Stanís bathroom.† The place where I get my showers.† I put my head between the wall and the back of the toilet.† I stand there.† I donít know why I just stand there.†† Stan comes in to check on me.† He pets my neck and back and tells me he loves me.† I like this and slowly lower myself to the floor.† He pets me until I nearly fall asleep.† He leaves me here for 20-25 minutes but heís constantly checking on me, I can sense him and feel him brushing me.† By now itís about 3:45 and Iím still breathing hard.† The brief rest didnít help with that.† I get up from the floor and walk slowly back into the living room to see Stan.† He rubs behind my ears and tells me he loves me.† I feel woozy so I lay down by his feet, a favorite place of mine.
I have had a hard time hearing things for a year or two but I always could tell when Stan was telling me how much he loved me.† It was like there was something in the air that I could feel.† Love.† I could feel it then as I was lying by his feet.† It was comforting but it didnít do much to stop my uneasiness about what was happening to me.† What was happening to me?
I lay there for a short time maybe 15-20 minutes before I had a sudden and compelling urge to go back into the bathroom.† Where did that come from.† I didnít know but thatís where I was determined to go.† I got up and started walking as Stan followed behind me.† I got to the kitchen floor and slipped.† I fell to the floor and I scratched my legs about trying to get a footing but could not.† I felt helpless and confused.† Stan lifted me up by my belly and I started moving towards the bathroom.
I slipped several more times on the way and finally plopped on my belly onto the floor.† Stan picked me all the way up then and carried me into the living room.† As he laid me onto the floor in front of the couch I felt a sharp pain and I yelped a little as he put me down.† This caused Stan much distress and I could hear him crying.† I couldnít move then.† My chest was beating and breathing hard as can be.† I had lost all my energy entirely.† I wanted to comfort Stan and tell him he didnít hurt me but I couldnít do anything but lay there.
I stayed like that for over five hours.† Breathing hard and not moving any other muscle.† Kodi came over and sniffed me once or twice and Stan kept petting me and rubbing me and telling me he loved me and I was such a good dog.† It was kind of nice but I knew it wouldnít last.† Stan also told me it was alright to let go. †Jus t let it go he said.† Itís alright.† I didnít know what he meant.
I had visions dancing in front of my eyes which stared vacantly up at Stan.† I saw us at the Dog Park in Gainesville.† I didnít like to get all the way wet but prancing in water up to belly was fun. The times we would go walking along the Santa Fe River were fun.† And we walked around the industrial subdivision down the street. Even long ago times with Stanís parents and Jerry in Winter Garden came back to me.† The long car ride to get there and the joy of coming back home.† Lots of smells all over.†
I saw us walking in cold, snowy weather at his daughterís house.† Brrr.† That was a cold place.† They had lots of cats I could chase and bark at.† What fun!† I remember the long ride with him in the car to Venusís house, in fact, riding all over the place.† I used to like riding in the car even though lately I really didnít like it much.† I could see all kinds of people that would come over and visit and pet me and tell me I was a good dog. For years I slept on Stanís waterbed.† I loved the way it wiggled when I walked on it.† And those walks down the street and around the neighborhood!† How many of those did we take in 14 years?† Too many to count and every one enjoyable and I discovered something different on each walk.†
I remember seeing when I caught a squirrel in the front yard and Stan was very angry with me and made me let it go before I could kill it.† And I also saw the time Stan came home from work to find the bird I had killed and left for him outside the back door.† I didnít know the bird was a Cardinal and Stanís favorite baseball team, the Cardinals, were starting a World Series that night, which they would lose in four games.† He wasnít happy about that either.† But when I remember catching and killing a couple of mice in the house, I see Stan praising me over and over for that.† Treats galore!
All these visions dancing before me.† Why?† What was happening to me?† There were firecrackers going off outside.† Ugh.† I always hated those loud noises, thunder was the worst, but right now, I donít seem to care about the noise at all.
My body was panting so hard and my legs were shaking so bad that Stan put a blanket over me.† It didnít help.† I whimpered a few times and Stan would pet me and tell me it was alright.† To let it go.† Finally a spasm shook me from head to foot.† My left foreleg kicked outward strangely and quickly, pushing at the cover.† Stan dropped onto the floor and removed the blanket and held my shaking leg in his hand. †
He continued petting me and telling me how much he loved me through his tears.† I gasped for a breath now.† The heavy breathing had stopped with the spasms.† Stan was telling me to let it go and I would gasp for another breath and lay still. Then another breath and stillness.
After a couple minutes of this I let out one last gasp and then nothingness.† I let it go.† And I was free.† It was 9:55.† I could see Stan now below me, yes, see him as I drifted somehow above him, I could see that he was crying a lot.† And I wanted to tell him it was OK.† That I had let it go just like he said and it was OK.
I wanted him to know that.† But I just couldnít tell him.
As I look down upon him now, nearly two days later, I can see that he is having a hard time adjusting.† He cries sometimes and I just want to tell him that itís OK.† I will see him again one day.† When the time is right and he is ready, I will be waiting for him.† I will be his good dog whenever it is his turn and he is at last ready to let it go.† I will see you again in Heaven.
Editorís Note: I adopted Luna from the Alachua County Animal Control when she was about 3 or 4 months old.† Having had the privilege to share my life with her for one month shy of 14 years, I feel like I have a strong sense of what she would say to me if she were able to do so.† A very strong emotional bond developed between us through the years and we could each sense if the other was sick or had some sort of trouble on their mind.† Just as she knew whenever I was feeling down she would come to me and put her head in my lap and I would pet her.† Just as I had sensed for several months before that final day that she was on her downhill slide.† Just as on that final day, I knew almost as soon as I saw her, when she turned up her nose at her morning treats, that she had just a day or two to go.† I donít know how, but the feeling was there.† I know she felt it, too.† She had to make her farewell tour of her domain before she felt ready to let go.† I love that dog as much as any man can love his dog, his best friend, his constant companion in good times and bad, never asking for anything except your love and attention and caring.
I miss you terribly my ďpuppyĒ, my Luna Belle. RIP.† You truly were a good dog.