That phrase is usually heard as dogs aren't people, but I meant what it says. I think the meaning will become clear.
Buster went to see Benny on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. And that ends a 20-year chapter of my life. He was the last significant connection to family life with my ex and kid. Buster was actually Benny's dog, as a companion, but he was as much a part of the pack as Benny. Camping, hiking, rafting at the lake, they both enjoyed it all. The bottom bunk on the camper was their "box" (crate) away from the house and they were as much at home on the RV as in the house.
Buster was probably the most gentle dog you could find although when we were attacked by a rabid skunk at 5 in the afternoon, Buster tore it up. Naturally he didn't realize that he was sacrificing his life if he didn't have his shots, but he did what he believed needed to be done. And since I had already fallen in slippery grass, he did keep the thing from getting to me.
It's been 28 days since he went missing, and although his remains haven't been discovered (to my knowledge) there is no doubt he is no longer of this world. It is most likely that he went off to die as Benny did in 2015 and his body may actually be close by. When I searched I was expecting that he'd want to be found so there are places on the neighbors' property where I didn't look.
I've had plenty of opportunity to talk with friends locally and on fb and the purpose of this post is more about making a new start than the loss of Buster. Donna doesn't want to get another dog (or guinea pig) and I understand and agree with her reasoning. But it's been 20 years since I've been without a critter to be responsible for and that is it's own kind of loss.
As to the title of the post, people aren't dogs, and for me, at least, I have never been able to give to a person the same kind of unconditioned love that I can give to a critter. Dogs give us unconditional love and attention and it's only natural that we reciprocate. Donna is still here, of course, but she, a person, can't fill that void. Even if I could put a leash on her and have her sniff trees while I pick up sticks off the lawn it wouldn't be the same sort of companionship.
Buster would be outside with my while I split wood, supervising, not helping, and every now and then he'd bay when I didn't something wrong. But my favorite and most heartbreaking memory is how he'd look at me after he lost his taste for plain dog food. Apparently this is something that happens to some dogs when they get old.
With his head tilted to one side he stand erect and stare at my as if to say, "your my human, I know you can fix it". And I could. At first we put warm water on the food, but in the past few months it needed more flavor. I saved pan drippings and stuff like that although his favorite was chicken live half-cooked in its natural "juice". Smelling that crap when I broke it into bite sized pieces wasn't pleasant, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Near the end he come to check if there was anything for him when the microwave ran. Sometimes it was, something it wasn't so it was totally logical that he should ch3eck.
I have already talked with Jeri about aging and such and she's also my example for dealing with loss, since in a very real way, her loses have been more significant than mine. But when it's life on life's terms there is nothing to do but move forward and process it. In a recent comment about aging well she said in reference to her and Martin (two of the oldest people I know), they remain social and get the most possible pleasure out of life. As the late Professor Joe Campbell (and I) would say, "Follow your bliss". Not as selfish as it may sound on first read since it's possible to get great pleasure from helping others and passing on acquired wisdom.
I remember a time 30-something years ago when somebody suggested that "a problem shared is a problem cut in half". Naturally, as skeptical as I am, I had to test it, and it is true. Between the replies to comments on fb this morning and this post I am already feeling better than when I woke up this morning.
Closure will not be the same in this case, but it's time to move forward. The dog box (crate) and bed is still in the kitchen and Donna is waiting patiently for me to handle it so she can mop and rearrange the the room. Perhaps I'm not ready to let go. I'll find out soon enough. I'll have to arrange to visit the shelter more often or find another way to pet a furry head but hopefully that will happen as these things often do.
So, the next chapter begins, contents unknown at this point.