Friday, August 1, 2014

Such a good boy, Elroy

We lost a beloved friend yesterday. Our dog Elroy. He made many appearances on The Mermaid's Tale over the years, and he even visited a few classrooms, both in fur-person and via the lesson plan he helped create for Berkeley's Understanding Science website. But far beyond all he inspired, he was just pure goodness and we're grateful to have been loved by him and to have loved him in return. Such a delightful, clever, and utterly adorable friend will live with us forever.

Such a Good Boy, Elroy

He never stole a thing. Not from us, not from Murphy. We could leave a cheeseburger on our plate and leave the room and it’d be there when we returned.

Murphy was the sneaky one, the dog’s dog. Not Elroy. We thought he was so smart. To obey our rules while we were gone! Little did we realize until many years later that he just had a different dog’s strategy. Just take the food while we're looking, willing. Sometimes right out of our hands, sometimes right off our plates, sometimes right out of our mouths, even.

He never stole a thing, until today. Today he stole a whole day of living. He’d be dead already if Dr. Roy hadn’t taken today off.

Instead of dying, Elroy hung out with me. Mostly I lorded, and we quarreled some. He wanted to chew off his toes. I didn’t want him to chew off his toes. I refitted him with a tube sock each time he gently slid it off with his teeth. I’d get up to get a snack and by the time I was back, the sock would be off, blood would be spilled, I’d put on a new sock, and sit with my hand on his paw until he stopped nipping at the sock, panting, waiting.

Wearing just this one white sock, he’s suddenly naked.

And it’s like this, after hours of morning tube sock standoffs, that he and I are lounging this afternoon under the mulberry tree in the backyard. Not at all what we could have done if Dr. Roy hadn’t taken the day off to do whatever it is that he had to do today instead of be in his office to take our meek, phlegmy phone call this morning.

And this place? Back in the far corner near the compost pile and the bucket we use to collect dog turds? Yes. This place.

We're nestled down with five bare feet under the shade of this mulberry tree, pressed up against the grasses that grew purple irises in May, in this spot, in the berried dirt, that he chose, and he’s forgotten all about his tumor and his toes. 

We’re letting spiders crawl all over our skin and fur, and licking the blood that had splattered onto his good leg, and sniffing the blood that just squashed onto my fingers when I smashed a mosquito, and panting and drooling, and interpreting the crows perched in the tops of the pines, and humming with the lawnmower across the street, and smelling, through the snot that’s filled my face for days, the gentle gusts that rustle the tall grasses and the leaves and that push the mulberried branches and the puff clouds northwards up in the sky.

We spot our first hummingbird. We watch a bee chase a sparrow while Murphy herds the cars that travel the lane that circles our yard.

And I worry whether this fetus can tell that I’ve been crying so hard and for so long and whether doing this to him, on the heels of that electric Beck concert on Saturday night, is good parenting. He’ll never get to grab a chubby little handful of Elroy’s neck fur.

And I can’t get the needle to jump past, “These are the wo-oooords we use to say good-by-yyyyyyyye.”

And I’m reminded of another time I sat for hours with another kind of orange beast, fascinating her with the contents of my luggage, unpacked and repacked, over and over and over again.

And I wonder whether this vantage, under the mulberry tree, is where my lovely orange friend would like to be buried. And I start to cry again. So I stroke his cashmere ear some more.

And I think I’m sitting here for Elroy, but I know he’s sitting here for me.

Elroy Beefstu Stacey (2003-2014)


Anne Buchanan said...

What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful dog. I'm so sorry, Holly.

Ken Weiss said...

A very moving tribute to peoples' best friend. It's too bad we know, when we first meet them, that their days are so numbered. As nice as they are, it's good that they don't know that, and that our days are so many more that we'll have to exist without them.

Unknown said...

Holly, this is beautifully written but very sad. I'm sorry for your loss.

Ellen Weiss said...

I'm sorry Holly. You were all lucky to have had each other but I wish you could've had longer. It feels very unfair that these beautiful creatures we share our lives with can only be with us for a fraction of our time.

Yet that fraction is so worth it. You'll never forget Elroy.

If you want a handmade necklace or something as a token of remembrance, let me know. Free of charge.


rich lawler said...

That's rough. I'm sorry. You have my deepest sympathies.

Hollis said...

So sorry to hear. Maybe remembering the good times will help? I lost my dog two months ago and still have to consciously do that ... remember all the great times!

Unknown said...

So sorry, Holly. He sounded like a great dog.