I took this photo of Blaze a little while ago.
I’d been looking at her, trying to look into her.
What do you know?
What are you thinking?
How is your heart?
The first few times JoHn or I walked through the farmer’s/farmers/farmers’ porch door, Blaze seemed to look at us… and then past us.
I think she was.
When one of us comes downstairs and she greets us, and then walks past to look up the stairs… is she thinking he may be on his way down?
I think so.
He was her charge – not her Padawan or anything like that. He wasn’t being groomed to be a Future-Blaze. By birthright, after all, Blaze is a royal. But he was her responsibility. She made sure he didn’t run too fast, or eat too soon, or generally step out of line.
In return he…
Well, he was a total brown-nosed suck up to her, and it never seemed to work.
Marshal groomed Blaze. He often gave small, respectful licks to her muzzle. When they were slowly exploring the yard and gardens, he always seemed to walk a half step behind her with great reverence.
That dog literally kissed her arse.
And Blaze not only allowed it, she absolutely expected it. No, really. You did not see her reaction when he failed to live up to her expectations. The Blaze side-eye is a thing, and it’s terrifying.
So… is she grieving? Does she miss him?
Does her heart hurt, in some sort of canine way that I can’t look up in the DDSM (The Dog Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders).
I don’t know.
But also, somehow, I know.
Over the past three days, we’ve done and not done a few things on purpose. We didn’t pick up Marshal’s bed, or his toys. His crate still sits right beside Blaze’s.
Instead of picking up and putting away Marshal’s food bowl, we washed it and put away Blaze’s bowl. Now she eats from the Marshal Dillon Dingle memorial lobster pot (a lobster pot, with the lid turned upside down (it is concave that way, and holds the food perfectly)).
Blaze doesn’t really seem to recognize that she was willed his bowl (it became hers through Marshal’s Powers of Attorney), but we liked the idea of not putting something else of his away.
Eventually we will disassemble his crate, and wash and fold up his bed. For now, Blaze occasionally chooses to use them, which she really didn’t do before he died.
Maybe it’s his scent that she’s drawn to. Perhaps it comforts her.
Or she’s just taking over his stuff on purpose, daring him to come back and kick her off.
No way to know, except in my heart.
JoHn and I have had many animals in our lives together, and we don’t need scientific studies – of which there are now many – to tell us that animals grieve. We have lived with them as both people and fellow pets have left us. Sometimes they seem to barely notice, and other times it’s profoundly apparent that they do. So we do what we do.
We help each other through.
For the three days that Marshal’s been gone, we’ve changed our routine a little bit, taking walks to new places and some more car rides so Blaze can add more jobs – having to do with us – to her busy brain and new schedule.
She has turned out to be a rather excellent ‘Coffee Time’ companion for JoHn, who makes a run to the local coffee house nearly every afternoon for coffee and chatter. And one of the things that has amazed me is that she has also turned out to be a phenomenal photography partner. Yesterday – and I have no photos of this because I was too stunned that it happened – a Great Blue Heron landed not a dozen feet in front of us (me and Blaze) at a quiet moment as we sat gazing over a pond. All it took was a whispered ‘stay’ and ‘off’ for her to watch but not react. It was an incredible moment.
A moment, I should add, that wouldn’t have happened with Marshal, who would have gone full on emergency puffer fish mode and screamed “GET AWAY!” over and over again in dog-ese while lunging on his leash. This would, of course, been fake bravado because he actually had a leash attached to him to hold him back. Had he NOT had that prop leash, he would have still been screaming his head off… but from behind Blaze.
Today Blaze and I went back to that pond, and I had a great time taking photos of a pair of buffleheads (ducks). She sat quietly beside me for nearly 45 minutes before emitting a quiet whine, indicating it was time to go home. So we did, and she took her place on Marshal’s chipmunk channel window seat. And that was more than fine.
There are two items of Marshal’s, though, that Blaze cannot have. They are the tennis balls he had with him when he left this world behind.
JoHn says they can be auctioned off for millions, as the world realizes the treasure we all lost when one Marshal Dillon Dingle departed this plane for some other (that we hope is kind of close by). I don’t know about that.
One looks halfway descent, if dirty. The other is has a little hole in it and Gawd knows what the muddy icky mixture of brownish is actually made of. All I know is I’m not touching it without a glove.
Marshal loved fitting two tennis balls in his mouth at the same time. It drove Blaze crazy (the second ball was usually hers).
For now, they sit way up high on a cabinet beside where Marshal last lay down.
And I check that spot each morning, when I come downstairs
Hoping to find the top of the cabinet bare…
One or both mysteriously gone.
Thanks for readin’.
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