Monday, August 25, 2014

The Empty Bowl

Twenty nine 2 quart stainless steel bowls lined up on the sunset  tiled kitchen island, awaiting their twice daily ration of kibble and water.
 Lined up in military perfection, aligned in order with how they will be stacked and delivered to the hungry occupant of crate or kennel.  Seventeen of those bowls will be delivered to the house dogs in their crates, twelve will go to the yard dogs in their kennels.  Prior to the laying out of bowls, preparations began with the kenneling and crating of the dogs.  This activity is accompanied by a great cacophony of howling, wooing, whining, barking, and anxious hunger sounds.  Often, the dogs are given a cookie to crate or kennel up, so most of them eagerly move to their appointed places.  Stargazers are not required to be silent at feeding time, so guests who happen to be present at this ritual, are warned, "that it will get noisy."  Prior to the kibble hitting the bowl, pills must be doled out.  Some time ago, I dispensed with the idea of wrapping the pills in some tasty treat, as the ever so smart Siberian soon figures out how to unwrap the pill and eat the tasty. Throw the pills in the bowl for some, and hand give the others.  Daisy, my IBD dog, takes 5 potassium, 1/2 magnesium, 1 Pepcid twice a day plus prednisone every 48 hours. She springs off the couch, on to the crate top, where I stuff the pills in one by one, followed by a cookie.  Daisy and I know the routine. Sparky, my 14 year old patriarch, fondly known as Snarly Growl Face, receives one half of a Carprofen, for his old joints. My favorite is never  friendly about taking his pills, but does like the after treat.  Throughout we are being serenaded by the sounds of the Siberian choir at full decibel.  Especially, once they hear me open the pill jars.  Very fine tuned ears, these Siberians. Next, the door opens to the dog food room, and the pitch jumps dramatically. Several types of food, filling the needs of all the special needs dogs.  As the food clatters into the metal bowls, anticipation grows. I turn on the kitchen faucet, fill up the pitcher with hot water and add to the bowls of food. Adding fluids is good for the dog, and slows down the inhaling of the chow.  At least I like to think it does. Who knows what the dogs think? Probably, more food, less water, Sue.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment