I am Living Life Without My Dog

I am Living Life Without My Dog

My DogMy dog, my beloved companion died a week ago now. Over last weekend, I cried so hard for her I made myself sick. I think that phase of grieving has passed. Most of us have lost a pet, so I can write about my dog Lily knowing you will understand how hard, and how completely, you can love an animal.

It’s a love that is pure and unconditional.

Animals return that love to you in the same uncomplicated fashion. Their love is not mixed in with hurts and disappointments, the slights and petty offenses, misunderstandings and losses, that our human relationships can embrace. A loving relationship with an animal embodies the best in us.

And the worst. We see animals hideously injured and wondered who are the people who do this? What sickness in them bubbles to the surface to starve or beat an animal? Where does it come from? I don’t want to linger there.

What has risen to the surface in me since my dog Lily’s death is my old fear of The Axe Murderer.

I live in a village in rural, mountainous California. Crime here is likely to be teenagers breaking in to vacant cabins. Nonetheless, I am a student of crime and crime fiction, and dark scenarios dance in my mind when I wake in the night.

It’s silent here, and dark. No streetlights. A breeze might blow up and sigh through the pines and the oaks. Occasionally I hear the yips and barks of coyotes. Yet the motion sensor light often goes on, signaling some animal is padding around the house at the bottom of the stairs. A raccoon, a bobcat. It could even be the mountain lion that is caught on wildlife cameras. The bears have been driven into town by the drought.

I’m much more afraid of the human variety of mammal.

Lily used to bark frantically when she caught the scent of the bear. I knew her bear bark. As she grew old, she became deaf, her eyes clouded, and she couldn’t see well in the dark. Arthritis and Cushing’s disease took away her agility. I had to carry her up and down the stairs.

Still, I felt she protected me, even when I knew that was a fanciful notion. Cats can stare at a wall until you believe something terrible lurks behind the drywall. They can look over your shoulder and convince you a killer is right there, a blade ready to strike between your shoulders.

When I first moved here, I had night terrors about The Axe Murderer. Stalking the back deck, he would be wearing a long black cloak, drag chains, and have red eyes. Thank you, Stephen King. Thank you very much. Then Lily came into my life and I forgot about him.

Now he’s back.

My doors lock and I have a butcher knife and a pry bar on my night table. In the state of mind I’m in right now, a gun would be foolish. I might shoot my foot off if the squirrel ran across the roof at night. (MP)

It’s too soon to find another dog. I know that the right dog will find me, just as my dog Lily did.

All is well. All is basically well. Time will pass.

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Mar Preston is the author of No Dice, Rip-Off, On Behalf of the Family, and A Very Private High School, all featuring Detective Dave Mason of the Santa Monica Police Department and his girlfriend Ginger McNair, a community activist. Payback, the debut of a second series, features a Kern County Sheriff’s Detective and takes place in a village somewhat like the one where she lives in Central California. She is a co-founder of the local SPCA, an expert Spider Solitaire player, and picks up road kill for her wildlife rehab buddies to feed the big raptors. Expect a second title in this series in 2016. She could tell you she is 27, a tall, leggy brunette with a Ph.D. in physics, speaks four languages, and writes every day. This is not true.

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