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I didn’t sleep well at all last night so I called in today. Insomnia and I are well acquainted and I know better than to go to work tired, bitchy, and longing for sleep. I started writing at five in the morning and took a break at nine to go get a biscuit and some air. I knew Frank was ailing, and had been. Frank is at least nine years old, which isn’t old for a Border Collie, but he’s had some health issues for quite some time. Elbow thinks he was kicked in the head by Mina and that’s what causing the problems. The problems started a while back but very recently there seems to be some growth on one side of his head, on the inside, that is sealing his right eye shut, and causing breathing problems. It went from bad to worse overnight it seems and now, well, now looks like decisions need to be made.
Elbow and I spoke about this yesterday and she has a friend coming over to be the undertaker. I get there with coffee and a biscuit as she’s on the phone with him, and he too has called in sick today. I more or less planned to help out anyway so I volunteered to come back later and dig the grave. On the way out I speak to Frank who looks like death warmed over. This is not a well dog.
I saved Frank’s life last Summer when Marmalade the orange cat was killed. Elbow thought Frank had killed Marm, at the instigation of Izzy the Jack Russell Terror, and Elbow nearly had Frank put down then but I crawled under the house and discovered there were no dog tracks anywhere near where the body had been discovered. Frank was reprieved, Izzy found a new home, but it wasn’t long after that Frank began to fade on us.
Frank has not be an easy Border Collie and some are not. His urge to herd has driven Theo, his former cellmate at the pound insane. Elbow went looking for a black lab, found Theo, and Frank was in the same cage so she got them both. That’s angelic in my book, by the way, but Frank was never an angel in his own right. Frank liked to herd Theo. Frank liked to chase fireworks, and we are ever so grateful he never caught any of those too close to the ground. Frank could be evilly influenced by Izzy. And Frank often clashed with Theo with growling and snarling and barking. Frank was one of those Border Collie who were not easy.
But Frank had a large heart and was true. Frank tried to be the best dog ever, and sometimes his efforts where just over the top. He was a joyous canine and always happy to see me. Frank was a beautiful dog, as most Border Collies are. Yet there was no getting around that his time had come. At the appointed time the vet showed up at Elbow’s house and Frank had retreated under the porch and would not come out.
I had already dug the grave and that is not an easy thing for me to do. I dug Spike’s grave when I was thirteen and I had to get Spike underground before my father got home. Crying was childish and sissyish and girlish and men didn’t cry but I cried for Spike as if I had lost a brother. In many ways I did. It was the last time I really cried like that and I cannot dig a grave for a dog without feeling that come back to me. Frank was a true companion to a good friend. He worked tirelessly to be a good dog even if he wasn’t always successful. I tossed many a stick for Frank and he never stopped wanting to play. I dug the grave for Frank as deep as I could, and the grave ran South to north as all canine grave ought to.
Frank wouldn’t come out from under the porch and I think he knew. I think Theo knew because as soon as Elbow shut him into the house he began to yammer and howl. Frank wouldn’t accept a treat and what other sign did we need it was time? But he allowed me to gently lift him up, and once standing, he slowly walked forward to his death. Frank was looking at me as they injected him and I saw the light go out of his good eye as his body failed. He never closed his eye, a metaphor on Frank’s life of never failing to do what he considered best for Elbow. We took Frank t the grave, and Elbow said, “We’re going to commit his spirit to the Earth” I looked at her and replied, “We going to need a bigger Earth.”

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Take Care,
Mike

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