It's been a week since we let our sweet fur baby, Dorey, go to doggy heaven. It was so hard to do, but it was absolutely the right thing. The right thing is rarely ever the easy thing I guess. Dorey had been suffering some time with severe arthritis in her hips, and it got to the point where we simply couldn't medicate her enough to ease the pain. I told the children that it was time, and we all went to the vet's office together. They gave Dorey a little sedative, and we realized that it was the first time she'd been calm and peaceful in many months. It was a gentle process, but still, so hard. At the end, we stood there and cried like babies - even my strong, stoic, self-possessed husband. We cried not for her, but for ourselves, and the big hole her passing has left in our life and our family. We love the people in our lives, certainly, but dogs are different. It's never complicated. Their love is simple and selfless. The are overjoyed to see you, even if you've just been away 10 minutes. They're excited when you're excited, even if they don't know why you're excited. They know when you are sick or sad and they just curl up near you, a calm, comforting, furry presence. You are their whole world, and their love for you is complete and unconditional. As my daughter, Elizabeth, said, "People don't really deserve dogs." It is true.
I have heard of knitters combing their dogs and gathering up the soft undercoat to be spun into yarn. I always thought it was unusual, even mildly disgusting, but now I get it. What I wouldn't give to have some tangible piece of my girl to lay across my lap when I'm sick or sad or lonely. But now there is no Dorey hair to be gathered up. People were often surprised to hear that Dorey, an Old English Sheepdog, one of the fluffiest and longest-haired breeds, did not shed. There were never clumps of Dorey fur under the sofa, or in my coffee, or on my knitting. Except for the clay paw print and a lock of her hair that the vet tech thoughtfully tied up for us, she is utterly gone. Her bowl and bed and collar are here, but she is gone, and sometimes I just don't know what to do. But I can tell you what I will not do: I will never let someone apologize for dog hair on their project, or pick at the stray hairs clinging to the yarn. Stray dog hair on your project means that you are loved by a dog. It means that when you leave the shop, happy tail-wagging awaits you. A furry bundle of energy is jumping up and down anxious to see your face, hear your voice, and feel your touch. Their fur on your yarn is a small price to pay for such unbridled love and affection. So when I see stray hairs on your yarn, I will smile at your good fortune, and I will try not to cry.