When someone's dog dies, the first question they ask is rarely "What am I going to do with all of these god damn dog treats?". But it's the first thing that popped into my mind after Pa drove away. I was in the kitchen, hands shaking, trying to see if we had any tea left- tea always calmed my nerves. We didn't have any of the good tea left. We did, however, have several boxes of dog treats. They were all on top of the fridge, up where the pup couldn't get them, in plain sight, as they have always been.
I can remember asking my father to get them for me. We've had Lil Miss Chocolate for as long as I can remember- she grew up with me. When she was still young, I was too, and I could never quite reach the treats. But I don't think she minded, really. Dad gave her plenty already. Still, I often asked if I could give her one. Usually I ended up making her do 'tricks' (ahem, asking her to follow basic commands she already did every day) for them. She didn't mind, really, because an extra treat was enough to make her day.
When she got sick, treats were some of the only things she'd eat. I don't know if we stocked up on extra to help make her last few days comfortable, or if we just already had that many lying around- I just know that, in the end, we kept them all on top of the fridge. They didn't stand out up there. There were a couple other boxes (lens wipes, pens, something covered in dust) up there with the treats. But when someone's dog dies, generally things that bring back memories stand out far more than they have a right to.
Understandably, the treats weren't the only thing that stood out. As odd as it may sound to some, what made me realize that she was gone the most wasn't the treats already gathering dust, or the empty space in front of the door where she used to lay and wait for Pa to come home. What hit the hardest was the silence. Things have been painfully quiet since her departure. The air just isn't the same without her there to fill it with sound.
She snored a lot. Some people think I'm joking when I say that we could hear her from across the house, but really, I'm not. That dog snored so loud that I could hear her from upstairs when she was downstairs. We laughed about it a lot, the fam and I, because she snored even when she was awake. Now it's just... quiet. It's very, very quiet in this house, and that is very, very painful. In this house, quiet is rarely good. Today that lack of good is the dog-shaped space in front of the door, at the top of the stairs, in the middle of the hallway.
When one's dog dies, the first question they ask is rarely 'what are we going to do with these stupid dog treats?'. It's not often "Do dogs go to heaven?" either. That's a question asked long before the dog makes it that far. I remember asking my mother that, back when I was a child. I do not recall what her answer was. But now, having seen her weep, having held onto for comfort, I know that if I asked her now, she would say yes. Because if someone, fur-covered or not, could make you feel that good, make you miss them that much, then there's probably a space reserved for them.
I cannot claim to be a fully faithful person. I have always had my doubts, my wonders, moreso lately than in past years. So I cannot say whether there is a heaven or a hell. I cannot say whether dogs go to heaven. But I can say, without a doubt, that when a dog dies, they deserve to go to one.
Little Miss Chocolate:
"A good dog."