Saturday, April 07, 2007

In memoriam: My dog Levi

Levi, our oafish seal pup of a dog, had to be put down this morning. His heart wasn't working right anymore and he'd spent the last day or so miserably unable to keep food down or even drink water. X-rays also showed a liver tumor (go figure) and blood in his lungs and abdomen. He never had osteoarthritis, as is common in these funny-shaped dogs, nor any prior heart conditions. He showed zero symptoms whatsoever until after Mom and Tom returned from their trip to pick him up, and even then, he waited until he got home. The vet said this was not a coincidence. He was 11.
Anyone who's been around Levi knows that his daily routine consisted almost entirely of:

1. Lying on the floor
2. Being petted by you, or
3. Wondering why you weren't petting him.

Occasionally his rope would bother him and he'd decide to kill it. This would involve thrashing it round in his ferocious jowls until he accidentally let it go and it flew out of reach, followed by staring at us until we'd get it down for him.
A Pembroke Welsh Corgi in good health weighs 27 lbs. Much to our amusement, Levi easily doubled that for most of his life. He didn't mind us ridiculing his weight and usually blamed it on his thick coat of fur. When we had to give him baths he looked half as wide with his fur matted down.

Like his late brother, Levi strove to protect our back yard from the neighborhood squirrels that would dare to enter it. It actually didn't matter whether or not there was one in sight, but if we told him there was, he trusted us and overreacted accordingly. This was also a continuously entertaining.

Tom and these dogs were a packaged deal. I never lived with them because I was away at college after they all moved in. But seeing these dogs is how I remember coming home from college, as their customary greeting was to bound out of the door, clacketaclacketa their stumpy legs across the driveway, and bump into me until I pet them. Levi still knew and trusted me, and always let me push him on his side and roll him over to rub his belly whenever I wanted.

The inability to communicate effective goodbyes and, as far as we know, the dog's inability to comprehend or reconcile what is happening to them, makes this whole process unbearable. The animal's innocence which was a blessing their whole life now manifests as something painful that we can't explain to or coax out of them.

I grieve especially for my little sister who has lost a companion and her "cute baby," as she always called him, and for Tom, whose dogs were by his side during his summers of cancer treatment. And I worry about the safety of the house, as there is now nothing to protect us from the demonic squirrels that will surely saturate our yard.

Fortunately, Levi spent his last moments peacefully surrounded by my family. We've spent four years making him as comfortable and happy as possible; this was the least we could do to extend that.

Now he is gone, except in our memories, and that is the story of Levi.


Anonymous said...

despite how amusing much of this writing was, Levi will be greatly missed by all. My sympathy for you and for your family, particularly Ariel and Tom.

Anonymous said...

This tribute was beautiful, Jeremy. You put into words both facts and emotions. You got it right the first time, photos and all. Letting Levi go was one of the hardest things I have done in my life. Reading your wonderful prose gladdened my heart just a little today, but more in days to come. I have shared this story with Tom. We both thank you for your fine words. The best tribute a dog could have was just written by you.

Lyds said...

I'm really sorry to hear about this, Jeremy. This was a really nice way to remember him though. Hope you feel better soon.