I’ll never hear from him again.
Stew called last night to tell me Waldo had died. It was a day we expected would come sooner rather than later when we picked him up in the middle of an unprecedented Carolina snowstorm.
He was old, sure. After all, ten years will put a few miles on an old dog. But what aged him, unfortunately, weren’t years of life but years of horrendous neglect and abuse.
He was quiet, so quiet, on that snowy ride home from the rescue house. He’d been pulled from a high-kill shelter and just needed a foster home for two weeks before heading to a no-kill shelter in DC. I think all of us knew he would never have to go. He was ours instantly.
I watched his sweet white face from the passenger seat, black scars across his snout and two-thirds of a mangled ear hanging as a reminder of where he’d been. I hate people.
Mankind had given this dog no reason to trust us. And yet there he was, calmly sitting in the backseat taking it all in, either completely defeated or, I like to think, hopeful that maybe, just maybe, this time would be different.
He farted the whole way home. Nerves, we laughed.
The cats weren’t so sure about him at first but eventually moved from rejection to tolerance, the closest emotion to love a cat can express.
We spoiled the hell out of that fat, smelly old dog. He spent most of his time like this:
In exchange, he “guarded the house” (and by this I mean he slept through every noise because he was old and deaf) and kept us delightfully entertained.
He was always Stew’s dog. No question. So when we split up, the fact that he would have full custody was never even discussed. It just happened, and it was right. I know those first few months were miserable for me, and though we never talked about it, I think Waldo was a source of comfort for Stew at an equally hard time.
From what I can tell, we’re both in really good spots right now. Next week he’ll go on the annual beach trip we used to take with someone new and a week later I’ll do the same. Waldo was really the last remaining thread that kept us tied ever so loosely. It’s the most ultimate and bittersweet kind of closure there is.
I think Stew is dwelling on the final few hours when he had to make the heart-wrenching decision to put him down. It’s something I could never do, and my heart really breaks for him. But I hope, when he’s got a little more distance from that day, that he can focus instead on the nearly two years of life and love he added to that poor old dog’s existence.
If ever you have the opportunity to adopt a rescue dog, please do. It sounds cliche but I assure you that after a few days you’ll begin to question who really saved whom. Waldo gave us more than we could ever give him. What a wonderful little life.
Rest in peace, Waldito. We loved you so much.