Biscuit came into my life at a time when I was lost to myself. Having gone through a series of bad relationships, I was mistrustful, insecure, and deeply lonely. Biscuit came to me in much the same frame of mind. Abandoned in a grocery store parking lot, Biscuit bore the physical scars of abuse and her skittish nature revealed the neglect from her early life had taught her people were not to be trusted. That was something we could agree on, and I took her home on a whim. Impulsiveness drives most of my decisions. Had I thought it through, I probably would have changed my mind: I lived in a one bedroom apartment, I could barely afford to feed myself, never mind a dog, I was rarely home, and I was selfish in the way that all twenty-one year old people are. Had I thought it through, I wouldn’t have brought her home with me. But I didn’t think it through, and getting Biscuit turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.
That’s not to say that things were easy. We had a hard time finding our way together. I thought that dogs did what you told them to do and that she should fit into my life as I wanted her to, but Biscuit quickly taught me that she was her own being with her own ideas about how she should behave. I thought she should be happy to go to the bathroom in the gravel alley outside the apartment, but she taught me that if I didn’t want her to use the living room as a bathroom, I needed to get off my ass and walk her to a patch of grass where she could go comfortably. I thought that she should be happy to sit at home until I returned, but Biscuit taught me (through eating every shoe, pillow, and cushion in my house) that it was kinder to bring her with me than to leave her alone. I thought that she should love me instantly, but she taught me that her affection was something to be earned through patience and time. In this way, Biscuit changed who I was and taught me to be a more thoughtful, giving and selfless person. And in return, I was rewarded with the love and unending loyalty of the greatest dog to ever live, which was no small prize.
Biscuit quickly became my constant companion and the standard that I judged all people against. If they didn’t like my dog, or vice versa, then I didn’t like them. And Biscuit proved to be a better judge of character than I. The few times I ignored her advice, given in the form of a chewed hat or peed on shoes, I regretted it. She became my fluffy, panting sage, always there with the correct guidance when it came to the true nature of the people I surrounded myself with. When she met the man that would become my husband, I knew she was in love. And so was I. He took us camping and let her to ride up front in the truck even though she leaned against him and panted in his face the whole time. He would take her on hikes while I was working, Biscuit proving to be a faithful follower to a guide who loved her as much as I.
Biscuit was universally loved by everyone who knew her. Even those who weren’t dog people were taken in by her ever-present smile, wagging tail, and calm presence. She was so undemanding, happy to lay quietly at your feet, the only things she ever sought was a pat on the head and the occasional walk around the block. She was so easy, and as life became more demanding, with kids, bills and other adult responsibilities, I am ashamed to admit that Biscuit became less of a priority. I often said that once David was born, Biscuit got demoted to just a dog. I now realize how silly that statement was. She was never just a dog, she was my dog, the one who was just happy to be around me, the one who knew not to ask too much of me when I had little left to give. She showed me a patience and understanding in her later years that I wish I could say I afforded to her as well. Many days I saw her empty food bowl and panting anticipation of a walk as just another demand in an already overburdened life. And today, with the realization that she will never again greet me at the door, jumping with excitement; never again breath her stink breathe in my face as she waits for a pat on the head; never again sit next to me at the beach, watching the waves in quiet contemplation; I am filled with regret for all the time I took for granted.
I am now painfully aware that life is a finite gift, one that is constantly dwindling whether we acknowledge it or not. Biscuit tried to make her exit five months ago–a ruptured tumor caused her abdomen to fill with blood and I found her gasping for breath one morning. It was incomprehensible to me that Biscuit could die. And as the vet told me the prognosis, that this was something that even if it was fixed would eventually occur again, that no dog he had seen with this same condition had made it another year, that it may be kinder to let her go now then to wait for this to reoccur, I just shook my head and told him he had to make her better. I couldn’t lose her and I couldn’t be the one to say she needed to be put down. He told me he would do what he could and hopefully, we would get to spend another week with her before we had to bring her back.
But she did get better, or so it seemed. Her recovery was miraculous and Biscuit once again had the spunk that had left her years before. And she kept living. First a week, then a month, then two. She was her old self again and it was easy to forget that the clock was still ticking, drawing closer to the inevitable. I had convinced myself that it was a fluke, that Biscuit would be the dog that lived, my own personal Harry Potter story. So when I awoke yesterday to find Biscuit’s food bowl still full and her laying on the floor as David jumped precariously close to her head, I knew that I had been fooling myself. We returned to the vet for the same treatment that saved her life before, but this time there would be no miracle. I took her home and she walked herself outside to lay in the yard in the cool shade. I sat next to her as she shifted her body, seeking a position that would allow her to breath easier, though no position existed. I called Casey and told him to hurry home, knowing I couldn’t let her go on like this any longer. As I sat with her, trying to understand how I would be able to live with myself after telling a doctor that they had to kill her, Biscuit gave me her last act of kindness and her labored breathing just stopped. She died at home, with me by her side, as we have been for the last ten years together.
This morning all I can see is the lack of her. Her empty bed, the absence of jingling from her collar, a water bowl that will remain unfilled. I am left with the silly wish that yesterday didn’t happen, that I could just go back and take her for one last walk around the block. Perhaps in time I will be able to be grateful for all the time we had together, for the lessons she taught me, for the unending love she gave me, but for now all I feel is a void that I don’t know how to fill. She wasn’t just any dog, she was my dog, the perfect dog, my canine soul mate, and I don’t want to learn what life is like without her. I know one day this will be easier, but today my heart is broken without my beautiful Biscy-Loo.