On Oct. 19, my wife's birthday, she called me, bawling her eyes out. "Never again," she cried, "I'm never going through this again," she said through sobs. She wasn't upset about venturing further into her forties, she was devastated by the loss of our rottweiler Hana (like Hana, Maui). Not a dog person growing up, it was her first time going through the trauma of losing a four-legged family member.
Unfortunately, I have yet to have the opportunity to cry, miss, or mourn, and as time hurries by, I'll probably never get the chance. Sad, since as a dog person, they've always meant a lot to me, and I'm one of those odd souls who finds sad animal stories as troubling as any human dilemma.
Why is this? Maybe ask Mike Emrick, the Hall-of-Fame New Jersey Devils and network TV telecaster who refers to his two dogs as his canine children. Emrick once passed on an All-Star Game play-by-play opportunity to be with his wife as they mourned the loss of their decade-and-a-half old furry family member.
For me, it's not much different. I brought Hana-the-dog home when she was about the size of a football. She actually was able to scoot from the back seat area of my old Saab, under the passenger seat to the front, where she'd hop up on my leg and try to drive. She grew into a very bossy, 90-pound block of muscle, who often mistook herself for a lapdog. Affectionate to the end, she'd often literally try to curl herself up on my lap or next to me on the couch, not realizing that only her head, front legs and part of her chest were able to fit. After an argument at home, or an off day on a broadcast, or a speeding ticket, or trouble paying the bills, I could always turn to Hana for a carefree wag and a smile. When our son was born, our friends and family were concerned about the then 3-year-old beast.
"She'll eat him", they said, only partially joking. Hana, a very powerful female, actually protected him, and patiently put up with six-years worth of prods, pokes, and teasings. She only once accidentally ran him over.
This past fall, Hana was suffering from arthritis in her hips (common in Rotties), and from Lymes disease. Medication seemed to help ease the discomfort and inconvenience, but eventually she couldn't put up with it. On Oct. 18, she cried overnight, as her hind legs slowly slipped into paralyses. On the 19th, my wife, son, and sister-in-law, took her to the vet to be put to sleep.
Meanwhile, I was on a flight home from Montreal the night of the 18th, and after covering Bruins practice in Wilmington the next day and hearing the news, I briefly contemplated a quick flight home to Hana (Wilmington, Del.) in the afternoon. It wasn't meant to be.
The Alpha of the pack, would not be on-hand to comfort the Beta. The bossy second-in-command of the Simpson family, was gone.
Sadly, all part of the job, and all part of the factors that go into an unavoidably gradual relocation. The career, the town, the team, the life experience, getting back to New England, are all worth it; except for that one day. My post-Thanksgiving thought on this pleasant Sunday in November: Thanks Hana. (1/20/1997-10/19/2005)