A bittersweet memory. There was a time Keanu would run up and down the open empty stretch of sand, exploring and splashing through the ocean waves with a big goofy smile on his face. He’d do his thing but always keep looking back with his piercing blue eyes to make sure his “wolf-gang” that consisted of Terry, Max (little Jug mix), and me were still close. Finally, Terry would walk out to a dune, and Keanu would swim along.
He had a menacing look about him, a big black dog with bright blue eyes, and people would get scared, but Keanu was a big gentle goofy giant. The slightest strange noise at night would have him puffing his cheeks and squeezing out a little whimper while Max would come, stand by his side, and offer protection.
When we welcomed home baby Alice, Keanu was intrigued and took to her as a protector. He would watch over her crib, always close, and she would give him a big toothless smile and extend her hand for him to lick.
As I write this, a slender black cat treads through the garden. It brings back a memory of Keanu with his nose pressed against the glass, his eyes watching every insulting move (“how dare that cat come on my turf”), his tail pointed to the ceiling.
Back to this picture.
This picture of Keanu, Alice and me is in mid-September – the last time we took him to the beach. He wasn’t a summer dog. The sweltering heat would make him sluggish. His time to shine came the cooler days, in winter when he would watch the first snowflake fall, and his brilliant blue eyes would light up. He could spend hours outside jumping and rolling through the snow.
We took him to the beach on this cool evening, hoping he would run and play, like he always did in the past. Instead, he strolled at a slow pace beside us. It didn’t feel right, and I put it down to age. He was eight years old (a senior for a husky) but still had plenty of life and years left. I would never have guessed that he would be on a feeding tube, a catheter, and other problems arising a couple of weeks later.
What gets me the most is that I never got to say “goodbye.” I never gave him that final hug, that final kiss, told him he was a “good boy,” and that we all loved him so very much. I truly believed he would get better and come home today, Tuesday.
There’s a thin line between life and death. It’s those ‘sad moments’ that always catch you off guard.
Keanu, like Max, was never just a “pet.” He was a part of our family, a member, a faithful and loyal friend. For the most part, Terry and I have lived an isolated life here on this Island – Terry as a “boss” and I as a journalist where you’d be invited to cover an event and then shown the door. So our ‘dogs’ were our friends, always there at the entrance to welcome us home and to miss us when we left.
Max is struggling with finding his place. The big goofball that used to rival him up is no longer here. It’s heartbreaking.
I don’t know what else to say other than “thank you” to everyone that reached out to us, offering a kind word of encouragement during this challenging time. I hope to write a proper blog post, something more meaningful in memory of Keanu when all this emotional pain of loss, the emptiness, this void, isn’t so raw.