DEAR FRIENDS, 5/1/2012

I didn’t get anything done this week because my dog died.

Lu Shan (Chinese for Green Mountain) was my long time, most favorite companion. I’ve never been so attached to an animal before. The emails we’ve been getting this week all say what an exuberant, friendly, good-hearted dog he was, and it’s all true. Both my wife and I are beside ourselves. We spent all Monday afternoon and evening crying and got up Tuesday–I slept 2 hours that night–and started crying again. There wasn’t a mean bone in Lu Shan’s body. He was far and away the friendliest dog anybody ever knew, kind, sweet, exuberant–wildly exuberant–and the greatest swimmer ever–and very competitive about it; he hated to have anyone swim faster than he could. There was only one friend, a young guy from Montreal, who could swim faster than Louie, and Louie and Jan were special friends. I’ve felt horrible this week, empty and out of sorts. I know this will pass, but I don’t want it to. Louie was a genuine and great Zen master, a real “mountain Buddha reincarnated in dog form” as one friend put it. He loved everyone and thing and greeted everyone, animal or human, with great enthusiasm and élan. Here’s what I sent out to Louie’s friends the night he died.


Last Thursday, April 18, when Lois took Lu Shan, our 9 year old, golden retriever, for his daily walk in the woods, she had to coax him along with treats. He was not himself. Friday, he was so sluggish he did not even get up to greet some visitors, totally unlike Lu Shan, the friendliest dog in the world. I took him to the vet. No conclusion. Saturday he seemed to be a little better, although not himself. Sunday he was worse again. All he wanted to do was lie around and his breathing was labored. Monday he was worse. He could barely get up. Monday afternoon we took him into an emergency vet hospital in South Burlington. He was panting and having serious trouble breathing. The doctor said he had a large and very aggressive tumor on his heart and the only thing to do was euthanasia. Louie was in so much pain; we did it then and there. We are grief-stricken. Louie was our all time favorite dog.

We will be getting Louie’s ashes soon. This summer, when Louie’s friends are around, we will take his ashes out to the float on Wolcott Pond where Louie loved to go–and climb a vertical ladder all by himself, by the way–and leap joyously into the air and into the pond. We will then throw Lu Shan’s ashes off the raft and into the pond.

There are too many lives in this life, too many deaths,
and no amount of thought can save us
from our grief for dying things–
not even knowing resurrection
sure and green as spring.

More next week.