<Mom, stop reading right here if you don’t want to read about Hershey.>

Our family dog died yesterday.  He was 16 years old (otherwise known as really old in human years – and he was still young at heart).  We got him when I was a sophomore in college.  His name was Hershey and he was kind of a mutt.  We think he was a lab/whippet mix.  He was a very cool, cute, happy-go-lucky dog.  When my sister went to college, Hershey became the child in the house.  He had toys (hundreds), a special seat in the car, a ritual before dinner (our dinner, not his) where he would go get my dad and have the first bite of food after we said grace.  He loved burgers but would only eat them with fries.  He hated the smell of lamb roasting.  He loved spaghetti.  The word "RIDE" made him shake and wag and jump around.  He loved going for rides.  He really liked to sleep on beds, not the floor.  When my sister or I would go home, we had to pull the trundle bed out in the guest room so he would have a proper bed.  With a pillow.  He was a hell of a dog, and he will be greatly missed.

Losing someone is hard, and it never ceases to amaze me how hard losing a pet can be as well.  We found out a few months ago that he had cancer.  And today it took over his body in a way that was too much for him.  I am happy to say that it was only last week that I saw him run up the stairs and get dad for dinner, and run frantically around the dining room one last time before collapsing in exhaustion on the couch.  Before the big C he would do those same things and not collapse; I was glad to see that even while sick, he could still muster up his old ways and act like a pup.

I am not feeling so eloquent…I tried hard today to pretend I did not miss him (was in meetings and getting teary over losing a dog is just not meant for business settings).  I like poems, and here is a poem that talks about loss.  It’s about pretending that losing things is not that hard, that it’s manageable.  Yet at the end, the writer starts to subtly admit that she is kidding herself – loss, especially of a (pet) friend, is really hard.

One Art

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;

so many things seem filled with the intent

to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day.  Accept the fluster

of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:

places, and names, and where it was you meant

to travel.  None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch.  And look! my last, or

next-to-last, of three loved houses went.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones.  And, vaster,

some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.

I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture

I love) I shan’t have lied.  It’s evident

the art of losing’s not too hard to master

though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Elizabeth Bishop