“There is one best place to bury a dog. If you bury him in this spot, he will come to you when you call – come to you over the grim, dim frontier of death, and down the well-remembered path, and to your side again. And though you call a dozen living dogs to heel, they shall not growl at him, nor resent his coming, for he belongs there. People may scoff at you, who see no lightest blade of grass bent by his footfall, who hear no whimper, people who may never really have had a dog. Smile at them, for you shall know something that is hidden from them, and which is well worth the knowing. The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master.” -Ben Hur Lampman
Lily June 2, 1998 – July 17, 2011
Lily was the first dog that I lived with during my adult life. She was a Cairn Terrier, and I got her as a puppy. She was my friend, family member, and companion. I often called her my “little assistant”; whenever I was working at my desk, she always wanted to sit on a chair next to me. I got Lily when I was a graduate student at Harvard working on my thesis. She learned to climb on the steps of the university’s main library, and could often be seen running around Harvard Yard with the many other dogs who went there to play. After graduating, she and I went to conquer the hills of San Francisco, and during the last few years we have been living in South America.
When rheumatoid arthritis entered my life and I started to spend a lot of time in bed, Lily was always by my side. She always seemed to know exactly how I was feeling, and a couple of years later started having arthritis problems of her own, especially in her hips. On many days people could look at her and figure out how I was doing, or they could look at me and figure out how she was doing. Going on regular walks continued to be more of a challenge for the both of us, but we continued to move forward the best we could.
When Lily had her 13th birthday a little over a month ago, we celebrated with the usual homemade doggie treats. And even though she continued to do well, her health had been on a decline over the past three months. When she woke up yesterday, she did not have the use of her rear legs. We immediately took her to the vet, who informed us that her heart was already failing. At this point, our only real option was to peacefully put her to sleep.
We asked for one more day with her. Yesterday, we went on our usual walk–although she had to be carried the entire way. (I was grateful that I’ve recently had some really good days in regards to my RA, and that I was both able to walk and carry her. That meant the world to me.) We cast her paw prints in a memorial stepping stone, and spent the rest of the day together. She drank lots of water, and ate some steak that was prepared especially for her. For one last time, we went to sleep together…and woke up together.
A little over an hour ago, in the comfort of our living room, we said our final farewells and had the vet put her to sleep. Just a few minutes ago, the funeral home came by to pick up Lily. We will receive her ashes later today. She will be missed by all of those in her lives, including her two younger “sibling” dogs (Alva – 9 year old Terrier/Chihuahua and Oliver – 3 year old Pug), but she will remain in our memories and in our hearts. She was indeed a “little assistant”, and helped me more than anyone will ever be able to know.