You do not bark to wake us up, desperate to go out into the garden. The tears have dried on my face, where I woke in the night, and thought you were too far away, out there in the cold, as if someone had pulled a thread in my heart.
No one wants to get up. It is so dark, so still, so cold. Fly curls tight in the corner of her bed. When we finally come down, she comes uncharacteristically into the kitchen, to look for you. She flops resignedly back down by the back door. Maybe you are outside?
The door to the utility room opens too easily. Your bed is still unslept in, as it always was, but now it is not because you have chosen, instead, to wedge the door shut. You are gone. You do not nose your bowl clankingly against the washing machine to point out that you have run out of water. The chicken feed sack stands unmolested.
I will never again hear your gentle, irregular bark. Your silken teardrop ears will never arch above your hopeful eyes as you present us with the merest twig in the hope of a game. When summer comes, as it must, the lawnmower will start, but you will not bark and spin in anticipation of the chase. You will not jump the puddle at the bottom of the drive, or roll on your back on the deliciously wet grass of a spring dawn.
The children whose prams you guarded are grown. So there are no more baby yoghurt pots into which to wedge your silly nose. You were here before them, a cornerstone, part of the foundation of a family. I cannot bear that you are gone. I know that before dawn, when the wind howls, I will hear your bark in my dreams, I will smile as if you were still here, and then. Then I will wake up.
There will never be another dog like you. You were a once in a lifetime kind of dog.
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