My Ben came to the end of his life a week ago to the day. So many mixed emotions, but there was nothing else I could do. They come to you. They get old; they die. My daughter and I stroked his velvet ears, at home, as the vet injected him for the very last time. Painless and quick.
My mind, full of memories, has been in flux ever since. And it is a conscious effort to process all the questions that bubble up whilst submerged in grief. Most remain unanswered. The pain is searing, the whole thing so physical.
We lived closely at home, work and play; foot to paw. I knew every ripple of his coat, his transforming colours in the sunlight, the flecks in his irises. I knew his anxieties and frustrations. And he knew mine.
Ben loved the horizon. He could sit for hours and stare for miles. It was beautiful to watch. But he loved to track scent, yes, the wilder the better. On three continents, we explored. You might imagine.
King of the Wye, he was water boy. And he knew every scrap of Westhope Hill. He knew particular plants. And the Begwyns. And latterly, Sully Island. And Dunraven and Monknash. And Lanlay. And the canal, and then just the park. With my ex husband, it was a little different ~ Offas Dyke summits and Radnor pine forests for them. And moors and heather. A little more rangy, further, distant…
And Ben ran swiftest, like an arrow, with plants and soils underpaw. His favorite task was to explore new terrain in good company, the pack running ~ a seemingly unlimited flow of joy eminating from his timeless brown eyes and waggy brush-tail. So many moments and so many stories; bears, coyotes, porcupines, possums and even the most elegant monarch butterfly landing on his nose.
All we can hope for is to enjoy the best life with them, to care and love them as dogs. They aren’t chattels; they are deeply emotional beings with long memories for the pack and its forays. They don’t respond well at all to meaness. They like routine and need to feel part of the pack, never separate unless it’s their choice. Contact is essential, but not total dominance. When they are fearful, they get angry. There is trust, but it is earned. They love a sense of purpose. They bond via licks.
My Ben. I lived with a being that was 99% wolf for 16 years, whom I cared for as deeply as it is possible. If we were apart, we pined. Now it’s just me. We lived the life-shocks and lulls. He’s my blood.
He grew old and died. His name was Ben.