Monday, April 18, 2016

Ivan in Our Hearts

We miss our puppy boy more than we can say.
Ivan was the sun around which our home revolved, and our home feels very dark indeed.

   After we lost our first-born Basenji, Reno, I really did not want to wake up in the morning. Then we adopted Ivan, my boisterous, energetic, affectionate, oh so snuggly puppy boy who demanded attention and made life worth living again. He was so happy to have his own people to play with him and give him love and attention, to have a yard to run in and squirrels to chase. Delightful little Ivan needed us, although we needed him much more.
   We had 13 wonderful years with Ivan, and we are grateful for every day, but we miss Ivan and all the components that together made him who he was: his personality and countless endearing habits and traits, his handsome face and expressive eyes, his mischievous and loving nature all combined to make him a once in a lifetime treasure. I suppose the greater the blessing the more severe the loss.

    Just as she did with Dasa, our compassionate vet came to our house when it was time to return Ivan to the angels. We made this as peaceful as possible for him, and he breathed his last as he lay on our laps in the safe familiar surroundings of his home. I am glad he is at peace and not in pain, but that pain is now ours to bear.

   It’s so difficult to even begin to talk about Ivan. There is so much to say, and I feel as though my heart is too battered to describe how much Ivan brought to our lives, how much love, how much joy, how deeply happy he made us. There are so many little things that made my heart soar. His yodels when we came home or when he wanted food. His impish sense that it was all about him; and he wasn’t wrong.
      He loved to snuggle with us. I could lie in bed and drape him across me like a scarf, all warm and content. He was so enthusiastic about food that we had to feed him and Dasa in separate rooms. Yet he learned to take a treat from one of my hands while Dasa received a treat from the other. We had baby gates in front of all the book cases to keep our exuberant puppy boy from pulling hardback books from the shelves and decimating them. Books with chewed corners are treasured.
    In 2009 he had bowel surgery and had to stay at the vet hospital for several days.  I visited him every day, squeezing myself into his crate so he could rest his head against my leg until the vet staff had to gently ask me to leave so they could continue rounds (and I could carefully unfold from my accordianated position). Ivan recovered, but was ever after unhappy about visiting the vet. I stayed with him for all procedures, and if I was there holding him for the vet, he was calm and seemed reassured that I would not leave him again. He trusted us. He trusted us, and what a gift that was. I so wanted to be worthy of that trust.

    It is a peculiar temporal limitation to be given such extraordinary gifts for only so long. They fill our lives with so much joy that their loss is staggering. It’s as though there isn’t quite enough oxygen and everything takes an enormous effort under the weight of this grief.
    How light and agile, how filled with joy and speed young and healthy Ivan and Dasa were as they raced around the back yard, swooping in intersecting circles, wearing big doggy grins, jumping and leaping. If I close my eyes, I can still see them.

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