Chelsea posted about their dog today, and I was writing a long comment back, and then remembered that I started this blog partly so I wouldn't hosey other peoples' parlors. So:
Matt asked me just the day before he died if I could handle our dog on my own. I So Much wish I had asked him why he was asking. Instead, I said - "of course I can. I take care of him myself all the time when you're out of town." I think, if any part of him knew what was coming, he wanted to know whether having our dog would help or be too hard. boris would follow matt anywhere, the sun rose and set on that man for him. but bo was by my side in the water that day, and in the woods, and constantly now. Thank goodness. Not only is he currently the only other surviving member of our family living here with me, but he is also the reason I talk myself out of letting go of the steering wheel, during those really bad moments.
We talked about getting a dog for months before we finally did. We wanted an older dog, to give him a "really good last few years." Matt knew immediately that boris was The One. We got to the shelter, he crouched down in front of the second kennel on the right, looked at the dog, looked up at me and said, "there aren't any other dogs in here. This is the one." Man, he had great skills at that. boris was, and is now, exactly perfect for us. We adopted boris at the end of July, 2008. I have now had him longer on my own than we had him together.
A few months after M died, I called boris by one of matt's nicknames for him, and he jumped up out of a sound sleep, frantically looking around. When he realized matt wasn't there, he started whimpering, and laid back down. Oh, that sucked. He used to run up to men on the beach who were built somewhat like matt, especially if they were wearing shorts and tevas. A few feet away, he would realize they were not who he was looking for, drop his head, and run back to me. He doesn't really do that anymore, doesn't go up to pickup trucks that look like Matt's and try to get in, doesn't respond to Matt's nicknames for him. He didn't even have that much of a reaction when my step-son came for a visit, after having been away for 10 months. Not sure which is harder - the looking for matt, or the not looking for him.
Driving to the river that morning, Matt (who had never had a dog before) asked how most dogs die. I told him I had only ever had one dog live long enough to die a natural death, and he walked off into the woods. Matt reached back to pat boris and told him, "that's how you're going to get to go buddy, walk off into the woods whenever you're ready." The last words Matt said to me, as he was standing in the shallow part of the river, were about boris. He'd run off a bit, and I called him. Matt turned around and said, "you don't have to worry about him here, babe, he's in heaven."