Twenty nine 2 quart stainless steel bowls lined up on the sunset tiled kitchen island, awaiting their twice daily ration of kibble and water.
This is a routine practiced religiously, day after day, month after month, year following year. I like doing this, feeding my friends, placing their bowls down for them, filling their needs. I love their individual voices, and I especially love the dead quiet that follows meal time. At least for an instant, until some anxious soul starts to sing the "dinner's over, I want out," song.
I have a pattern in my head and on the ground of how those bowls are laid out, and on it continues, until the awful day, when one of the dogs, in the case of this story, my girl Cloudee, has suddenly and violently left this Earth. What happens at feeding time? The pattern is wrong, the names in my head no longer match the battered silver bowls. What has happened to regular? Everything is wrong, out of place, the pattern has broken. Where is Cloudee's bowl? It is now the Empty Bowl in the dish drainer, never to be filled again as Cloudee barks in her double beat sing song bark, waiting to eat in the front of her kennel she has shared with her brother Wyatt, since they came to Stargazer in 2008. Cloudee died suddenly, or rather I had to have her put down, a very profound phrase, which means being the instrument of your friend's death. Most likely Cloudee had Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia and Immune Mediated Thrombo Cytopenia. Her gums became pale, she was bleeding somewhere, she became paryalyzed, was rushed to the vet, and then she was gone, in a matter of a few hours. My dear friend, whom I had spent weeks in settling and earning her trust when she first arrived at Stargazer with Wyatt. Cloudee was a lead dog, loved to run in harness, and with time and love, had become comfortable and trusting, no longer running and hiding when approached by a human.
That night of Cloudee's death, my heart broke, as I saw the Empty Bowl waiting to be filled. Never again. The pattern had shifted, my friend was gone, and now there were only twenty eight bowls on the sunset tiled kitchen island.