It's hard to believe that Pinnie, best dog in the world, is now buried in our front- yard with marigolds planted on top of her along with a vase holding several red hibiscus flowers.
When going through a valley of sadness like this, it is easy to wish we had never got that foxy-spaniel cross thirteen years ago that grew into the best dog that ever lived, but that is futile thinking because we did have her and she did have us and what a sterile life it would be if we knew no love or loss.
I should have realized Pinnie's poor prognosis that day last year when I had to carry her home up the last hill after a short walk in the paddocks behind our house. She just went on strike there and then and I had no choice but to look a right goof-ball returning home with a rotund dog and four paws protruding at right-angles from my chest.
A state of denial is a blissful one. We thought Pinnie's expensive heart-pills would rescue her and ensure near immortality but of course a heart does eventually stop beating.
For a while I doubted Cossack had any true fondness for Pinnie because he sometimes came out with harsh words like, "Get off that sofa, Pin!", or "Bern, your beep-beep dog ate my pineapple lumps!", but he cried as much as I did when the best dog in the whole world succumbed to the vet's injection.
We were both grateful though when her body slumped peacefully for her discomfort was over.
But what do you do with the daily little events that cause you to react instinctively as if your dog is still mooching around? Like yesterday, Coss spilled some tuna on the decking and I called Pinnie over to do her usual slurp-slurp clean-up but then I remembered that she was dead and dead dogs cannot lick up tuna.
I expect her at the back-door with damp nose against the glass but when I look there is no damp nose with a dog attached to it. How can we walk on the beach without Pinnie to fetch the sticks we throw into the waves? What is there to laugh at with no dog to bark ferociously at a hunk of driftwood or a seagull?
Why do I go to fill up her water-bowl when the sensible part of me knows she is gone? Obviously, the mind takes a while to adjust to sad new chapters on our lives. We want to pretend for just a bit longer that things are as they were.
Sure, Pinnie drove us crazy at times. Did she obey basic commands like, "Quiet Pin!", when she barked and barked and barked and barked and barked at every visitor, even a friend? No, she didn't.
Was Pinnie a thief? Indeed she was. When we caught her licking out a stolen jar of 'Nutella' under the sofa, such was her menacing snarl when we attempted to remove it from her that I wondered if she had originated in the very pits of hell. Fortunately, Pinnie was all bark and no bite, all spark and no spite.
She was a ghetto-dog through and through, of unknown but probably dubious parentage. Yes, Pinnie had faults but she also had brown eyes of velvet kindness and ears so soft that when Coss and I took her to the vet last Saturday, I wished for an insane moment that I could do a Van Gogh and claim a bit of just one ear for a souvenir. Of course I didn't because that would be weird but I can truly say with hand on totally unbiased heart that our dog had the most beautiful ears, not only in New Zealand, but anywhere dogs are between here and infinity.
Thank you, Kristen, for demanding a puppy on your 10th birthday. Thank you, Ben, for fighting with your sister over who loved that puppy the most. Thanks, Trish for those walks on the beach and a huge "Thank you" to my mother for being so good to Pinnie while Coss and I had busy lives and our children had grown up and left home.
Perhaps I should walk on the beach sometime soon. I'll go early on a sunday morning and noone will see the condition of my heart when I throw a stick into the sea and it just washes, un-fetched, back on shore.
Sentiment has its place but so does gratitude for what is lent to us for a season. Thank you Pinnie.