Milo’s Last Tribute

On this past New Year’s Eve, at 11:55 pm (I know the exact time because I had to pause for tissues) I was sobbing over the chapter in David Wroblewski’s The Story of Edgar Sawtelle that is narrated from the dog Almondine’s point of view. As I listened on cd, it was a story that I came to appreciate slowly, even doubting for some while if I would continue to the end.
Although the book’s main character, Edgar, had already had my heart thumping nervously during his trek/escape from home with his dogs, it was Almondine’s thoughts from a realm beyond that took me over the edge.
This past Saturday, my own sweet doggie, Milo, took me to a place of grief even beyond that as I took the necessary journey to have him put to sleep. Since suffering a third recurrance of a spinal stroke this past August, it had become more and more apparent that this time we had not been successful in rehabilitating him to a happy and independent life.
Like every physically challenged being, he had good days and bad days, but as caretakers my two sons and I had all exhausted our resources to provide him the constant and necessary care demanded to keep him reasonably functional. A visit to the animal hospital had confirmed two weeks ago that he was not going to get better and although I began preparing myself mentally for the inevitable choice, it came with great sadness and many more tears as I drove him this past Saturday back for a final goodbye.
Two years ago, I had found myself lying next to Milo on an animal hospital floor giving thanks for the love his doggie soul had brought into our lives, and this time I repeated the same prayer, but without the expectation of any saving grace.
I held Milo in my lap for a few last ever-enjoyable tummy rubs and then indicated to the doctor to insert the first of two syringes into his catheter. I was warned to expect death to come very quickly and it did—with Milo never shutting his eyes, but the light and energy simply fading away to a dull stillness.
Throughout this, my mind was wondering about the doggie soul after death. I wanted to tell my sons to look for a sign from Milo in these days that have followed and this morning, looking out my bedroom window as I have done so many mornings, I saw an element in the familiar landscape I had never before noticed—a simple wooden cross, obviously the grave of a pet, at the edge of our neighbor’s property. It was not mere chance that today was the day I should notice it, I realized, but a sign of consolation that yes, the heart does go on.
My sons and I plan to create a mosaic yard sculpture in memory of Milo for our garden.


One comment on “Milo’s Last Tribute”

  1. Laura – What a great picture of you and Milo. . . and how sad I am for you and Brook and Shelby, especially. I just saw Marley and Me, and I’ve just been through a harrowing time with our dog, Shelly, so I’m feeling some of the pain you must have losing Milo. He was a great dog! Shelly is 14 now, and her time is quickly approaching. It’s great to think of how her doggie soul, as you put it, will no doubt live on, especially in our hearts.

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