Lupi had a hard night with bleeding and then in the morning she woke up and it begins again and I hold her. She is standing outside and against me and I go in to get something and when I come out she is up on the little hill by the piñon and has dug out a nest facing the corner fence where she has never been. She sleeps and is quiet. I get a coat and blanket and I sit out there covered up and close to her. B gets tea and then oatmeal later for us and I write or call friends and ask them to pray for her passage. I thought she would just stop breathing she seemed so faint a heartbeat and breath. She must lie there for close to two hours and I call the vet because we have an appointment this morning but at her appointed time Lupine bolts up and starts over to the other side of this small area then lies down quickly, and is weak and begins to bleed in her mouth. She looks at me with this vulnerable open look and deep into me. I will always see her face this moment piercing my heart. I talk to and quietly say” let’s go Lupine to Dr. Joy” and she walks all the way through the yard to the gate as I open the car door she jumps into the car and lies down and looking dazed.
When we arrive and prepare her with something meant to calm her to sleep, she reacts to the shot and throws up and lurches in a seizure while I put my hands around her and I hold her against me and onto my lap until she finally collapses and begins to become unconscious in the car. Dr. Joy comes a while later and she is sorry Lupi reacted as she did.
The whole experience reminds me of her as a pup and how a wolf dog can be so sensitive to medication. I am glad I did not put her through that kind of process over and over for radiation or knowing how important a wolf’s muzzle is had opted for surgery to remove her upper jaw. Dr. Joy struggles to find a vein in one leg and after a few tries Lupine stirs a bit but quite out of it . Dr. Joy has to move to the other leg and that works. They put the drug of eternal sleep into her, and it takes a while for her heart to stop. Dr. Joy is amazed at her energy and quiet way the heart is still beating almost in silence. Dr. Joy says that this may have been a hard few minutes but not as hard given the journey she has been on.
I cannot help but feel this as a medical mess because it has been so gentle the last three weeks and I could ease whatever was needing comfort and be gentle even just her sleeping in the yard this morning was tender but this is difficult and my stomach is hurting but it is what it is.
After this is done I have her body for a little over four hours until I take her to the crematorium. I drive up to Pecos and turn off on a road a bit confused if this takes me to the river, and the road is named “Sleeping Dog Road” and we move up past it and keep going. I wanted flowers for Lupine from town but I find a small mexican market that sells flowers, and I buy two bouquets. I talk to the woman and she says the priest said that dogs go to heaven.
When I return to the car I take the plastic wrapping off the flowers, and spread them around her body. I drive three more miles to Monastery Lake to get water to bless her and clean her. As we drive up the dirt road at a little past noon into the lake a large coyote stops and stares at us in front of the car as it floats into the meadow of red willows.
At the lake I ask a navajo man fishing about the best place to get to the river after I leave the lake as I fill my jug with water and he tells me the story about how he has had eighteen dogs and now has nine and his wife won’t let him get anymore. I go back to the car, and wash her eyes, face, ears and feet and tail and clean Lupine and then we drive off.
Up the windy road about three miles I find a turn out for the river and collect more water and cut some fur and send it down the river. I bath her and tell her she has purged and now she has been bathed, and now the wind has taken her turn with her fur as another element for her spirit, and she will become ash. I realize she chose the element of the earth this morning herself.
On the way back I see the entrance open to this funny little Benedictine Monastery and go up to the door and ask if a monk could bless my dog who is in the car and has died this morning. They send a monk in his eighties and he prays for us ;”bless her for being God’s beautiful creation and for being a companion, and bless this woman to find companionship again and courage in this passing”he is lovely and tender. I talk with him for a while about his life, nd his work in an orphanage in Vera Cruz. His story is one of a person who went there for God’s work. Eventually I say goodbye.
Before I arrive at the crematorium my friend Lorna who sang a song to Lupine after she died in the vet’s parking lot calls me again to sing a Native American song I was listening to from the window as Lupine was lying in the yard in her corner.
It is so wonderful to hear Lorna sing this chant really again as four ravens head East. Lupine has another blessing wolf style and native style. When I arrive at the crematorium there is a man who is driving a red sports car in the opposite direction as I go past rows of dogs in cages, and an old barn/garage that is dilapidated. He has a hand that is missing most of his fingers and is very syrupy with me but then in a loud voice yells suddenly at this kid to hurry up who is the son of the man who is supposed to help me whose car is supposedly broken down. I say to the owner it is okay do not yell there IS no hurry.
The owner he tells me they have Donald Rumstead’s dogs there and all this stuff at the smelly barricades, and I am grateful he goes to run an errand and it is just me and the kid and Lupi in her blanket as we begin to move her body. We lift Lupine out of the car on her quilt and put her in the” viewing room” they euphemistically named that is a dirt floor with junky stuff in it and fake dirty flowers, and a funky wood table. It is pretty bad. I cover her and place flowers around her and remind myself it is just her body and spend a bit of time with her alone after I pay them and leave them the glass container with the heart on it.
I take pictures of her feet and ears at various angles and sing and talk to her until I must leave. I drop things off at Goodwill and am very agitated and intense swirling with emotion. Tonight I want to go and get her keep her warm and float her down a river and so I imagine that she is there already on her own and it is okay. I miss her so.
When I consider the day I feel her with earth, and then a purge of the poisons, then with water of lake and river, and a walk about with coyote brother appearing, and we listen to the story of the man with the 18 dogs at the lake as the person I walk up to who loves dogs and directs us to the river. I think of how he sits by the lake and talks with me for a while with his native easy fisherman manner as he tells me where I can go up the canyon to get to the river itself and see again how her fur drifts when I set it loose on the Pecos, and the wind picks up. Then we enter the bardo it seems at the crematorium and I am reminded in NM of the the edges of things in the outskirts of town and gratefully head to town as I deliver bits of her and my life along the way. I drop some car covers in the dump by the oncology place that was so difficult for us and figure they can take care of it for us. I look for her when I am home, I madly clean, wash, and fold things to take to the small pet place in the morning needing to make the room no longer a sick bay but a house but it seems so empty without even that angle of life with Lupine. I put the seat up so that she is no longer lying in the back but can sit up when she visits in some moment in the car which I am sure she will. I am glad she is free but I grow panicky at not being able to see her in the morning and try to rest my spirit. It seems still an impossible task. I try and gather the whole tour into these words that is is our last ride together with signs and people of all manner along the way.