Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Oh Captain, my Captain

When I moved to Key West it was the first time in my life I was on my own. It was also the first time in my life I didn't have a dog, so it seemed only logical to get one. The thing was, I always had dogs with my family, this was the first time I had one on my own and didn't realize the responsibility he would bring. I remember the day I went to the pound to pick him out. I wanted a small dog but found this cage full of a litter of beautiful little puppies, so I climbed in and played.. I was scratched, licked, sniffed and loved it. There was one little puppy who just sat and watched as I played with the others. His eyes told me he was mine. We left together that day and on the way home it was decided he would be called Captain... seemed appropriate for a dog born on a semi-tropical island. Little did I know how appropriate. Captain was the best, he was the kindest, friendliest soul I have ever known. He was adventurous, loyal and wanted nothing more than to be by my side. Two things I used to say about Captain and they still hold true. One is that he was an angel sent to me from the lord above via the pound... lol... I have never been a religious person, but I always believed Captain and I were meant to be together. The other was that Captain temporarily satisfied my maternal instincts. I wanted so badly to be a mom, even then and I knew I wasn't ready. I knew I had to have my life together before I brought someone else into it. But Captain was the perfect fix for that. From him I learned the importance of being responsible for another being, I learned what it is to love unconditionally and to feel unconditional love. I learned how to look in someones eyes and feel what they are feeling and understand what they need. He could just look at me and I would know... I never felt that way with anyone before, maybe it's kinda sad that he was "just a dog" but I don't think so. I think he was part of the life long process of learning.

He was with me through so much and I sacrificed a lot to keep up my responsibility for him. But he also gave so much. When we lived in Key West, he would ride in my bicycle basket. We would go all over town and people would ask us to stop just to get a picture. Being a very dog friendly town, he could come into bars with me. I would just tap the bar stool and he would jump up. I could put a twenty on the bar and he would set his paw on it... getting us a drink almost instantly. Ahhh yes... us.. Captain's favorite drink was a White Russian. I would let him have little tastes from my straw. Sure he would drink Margarita's or rum and cokes too, but he always seemed partial to White Russians. More that anything he loved to swim and he could go for hours swimming at the beach or in the pool or even in a hot tub. He even learned to use the ladder to get in and out of the pool in the backyard. Several times I caught him sleeping on a float in the pool, just floating around, enjoying his life.

When I moved back to NY, Captain and I found a basement studio apartment in the home of a lady named Alyce. She was very good to me, but it was no secret that she liked him better. She would "borrow" him from me all the time and take him for walks and hikes. We were lucky to have found her. The best was the first time he saw snow. He really loved the snow. In his tracks you could see four paw prints and one tongue print going from side to side, he couldn't get enough. So many Captain stories... so many in my mind.

I am grateful to have know him. I remember the comforting feeling I would get by listening to him snore by my side every night. As he got older the snoring got louder and louder. The sound never bothered me, but eventually I realized he was struggling to breathe. We tried everything to help him... meds, surgery, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, diet changes... but alas the time came when I had to let him go. I couldn't watch him suffer and deteriorate any more.

On April 4, 2004 I brought him to the vet for the last time and held him close to me as the vet injected him with a shot that ended his life in seconds. I held him and looked in his eyes so he wouldn't be afraid and assured him all would be ok and that we would see each other again. He was cremated shortly after that and the ashes were delivered to my house days later. I have held on to them for four years.

Today I let go. I went to Robert Past Park on the Hudson. The same place Ken and I had our wedding reception. I sat on a rock and cried as I let go of each handful of ashes. I remembered all the good times and the love that remains so strong
There at the park I also let go of the negative energy that has been plaguing me for so long. Yesterday, Ken went to India. I suppose some might say I should have been there mourning the loss of the man I spent the last 13 years of my life with. But honestly, I feel a sense of freedom. In many ways Ken is a good man, but his energy tended to over power mine all too often. He has always been on the look out for destruction and doom and didn't really get how to look on the bright side of life. I do. I always have. I thought maybe I could show him, teach him, rub off on him... whatever... but I couldn't at least not for long. The past few days he has been so scared and nervous about his trip. He has been reaching out to me and I allowed it once again. After all, don't I want to remain his friend? But the thing is, I think by being there for him, I have held him back and even though I tried like hell to encourage his growth, I held him back. In doing so, I also held myself back. I don't blame Ken for this. I take responsibility for my part. All I want is to grow and experience. My life is changing ever so rapidly and I am taking all the steps I need to to make sure it is all healthy for me
I will always have a place in my heart for Captain, but it is time to let him go.
I will always have a place n my heart for Ken, but it is time to let him go.
For the two I say thank you for giving me what you have and I wish nothing but the best for you.

After all was said and done... I skated around the park reminding me of what is yet to come.

Now playing: Neil Young - Neil Young & Stephen Stills - Long May You Run
via FoxyTunes

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Aside from my own perfect childhood dog I remember Captain and his acceptance and love of my "very in his face" two year old!!! Hannah loved Captain and talked about him for years after our visit. He was a great dog. I am glad you had his love in your life.