a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Erasing 2

Friday, July 03, 2020

Erasing 2

SUMMARY: Goodbye Chip part 2 -- what I'm doing, what needs to be done, quandaries, anger, sleep...
Update: Added some photos July 5. Will probably add more later.
Backfill: Written June 17 -19; posted July 3.

Written June 17-19 while wandering helplessly around the house and yard and crying.

The thoughts are the originals.  After the fact--early July--I realized that I probably had photos to match a lot of these, so started adding. So hard to go over this again. But I'd rather do it while he's fresh in my mind.

June 17

Don’t want to be reminded of the absence of a dog at every turn in every room. My initial reaction this morning was to load Zorro up into the car with me and go away somewhere for four days. Then I started realizing that, if I did that, I would be coming back to all the memories still right in front of me. It’s not that I want to erase him. I just want to reduce what I see.

So things to work on today:

Package and label the uncooked chicken that I bought for him. And put in the freezer. Package and label the cooked chicken that I made for him and put into the freezer. Wash all the pots and pans that I used to cook for him: rice (which he decided he liked for one meal only, and the rest I finally tossed), pasta (which he didn’t like at all by the time I offered it to him) (and which I will try to remember to feed to the other dog is a bonus in the next day or so). And to cook two different batches of chicken. Wash them all and put them away.

Liked rice with chicken for one meal the previous night.
This morning, likes only chicken.
This evening, he won't even eat the chicken if it has touched the rice.

Remove and wash the cover on the dog bed that I bought for him for his sixth birthday then put it back on its Styrofoam base and hide it somewhere. It’s a big bed so this will be a challenge. I just can’t look at it right now.

Pick up all the toys that I either got especially for him or that were his favorites. Hide the ones that are still in good condition. For a while. Hide the ones that were of interest only to him that were his favorites and that he would always bring me. I don’t know why, but I’m going to have trouble letting go. Maybe I can bring myself to toss the ones that are in not good condition but that I saved because he also liked those.

His most favorites.  Interestingly, of all the zillions of toys in this house, Braided Monkey and the RopeBone came  with him from his old home and are still among his top favorites--except that the 2 items next to Purple Hippo are his absolute favorites, and they're actually remnants from larger toys!

Pick up the two different kinds of bowls that I used for his food (see photo above), wash them, stash them in the cabinet in the garage.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do about the two elevated beds in the kitchen. For one dog, I don’t think that I need two, except that, depending on whether they want to be quiet and out-of-the-way, or if I’m eating, then they want to be under the table, but if they’re watching the yard, they might be wanting the one by the door. Anyway, I’m not sure where I would put the extra bed, though its legs do come off.

Bed under the kitchen table.

There are two crates in my bedroom. The one that I think I’ll keep there is the one that Chip liked and most of the time slept in. So I have to decide… I don’t know, Zorro has slept in that one as well from time to time when Chip decided he wanted the smaller one for some weird reason. So maybe I’ll take Chip's bedding out of the big one, move Zorro's bedding in from the smaller one, and put away the smaller one.

Crates in the bedroom.
Dogs are blurry because, as you can see from Zorro being halfway in the air,
they are playing a wild game of chase in and out and roundabout.  January 2020.

Also in my bedroom, in the back corner of the closet, is a dog camp bed (insulated flat one-layer sleeping bag or, like a flat down comforter) that I put back there after Chip's escape from the fireworks that first July, because that’s where he hid for a while before I came home and found him missing. (I know because the bed was soaked with what I think was panting saliva.) So I’ve left it there, and he has used it from time to time when he’s scared of something, or sometimes, I don’t know, maybe he just wanted to be away from Zorro. I’m not sure how easily that cleans, but I have to figure it out and put that away.  ... ...  He spent a lot of his last night curled up there in that corner, with his back to the door; when I got up in the morning, he didn't move and I thought he was already dead.

I know that I have a photo of him  hiding on the bed in the closet, but can't find it.
Meanwhile, there's the puffy tan camping bed in the back corner of the closet.

I need to sweep and vacuum like crazy to get all the pale dog hair out of everything. I need to change the sheets on my bed today because they’re covered with Chip's dog fur.

Call the vet's office and get the expiration dates for the medications that they gave me the day before he died. So I can stash them somewhere just in case they might be needed for someone else, although I am putting out messages to see whether anyone local wants them instead.

Try to avoid thinking too hard about the new dog toys that I just bought two of, two weeks ago. Maybe put one away in a closet.

I'll replace with photo of the actual 2 maybe tomorrow.

I don’t need two crates in the car. Need to take one out, find some place to put it, maybe it’s time to get rid of some of the other soft crates that I’m not using that aren’t in the best condition that I haven’t gotten rid of because, for example, the green one that Chip ripped a hole in the first time I used it at an agility trial, was brand new when he did that. And then there’s the big really ancient teal and purple one that Remington used that I loved, and I’ve not been able to get anything in those color combinations ever since, so that’s a huge souvenir that I really probably don’t need to keep, as part of it is ripped, also, and I would have to have it repaired, and then what: store them all again? I could use the space.

I need to clear out some of the extra leashes from my front hall, and the second harness.

I need to get rid of some of the extra tunnels that I got just last year from a couple of friends specifically to set up a bigger tunnel path throughout the yard, because he loved the tunnels so much and I wanted to give him some variety. I think I have four now that are in shape that someone could use in the backyard, but would need replacing in a year or two anyway.
Zorro doesn’t need six tunnels, I don’t need six tunnels. So I need to evaluate the ones that are in the worst shape to decide which to keep.

Another Chip tunnel game, August 2017

Another photo I remember taking--all the tunnels in the yard--that I am now not finding. Will have to retake.

June 18

I had a hard enough time this morning when I went out to use the hose sprayer to water some plants. He was there every time I wanted to do that the last six years and now he’s not going be there I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to get over that. I certainly can’t get rid of my hoses.

Is this *really* the only photo I ever took of him trying to grab the spray or hose?
When it was almost a daily occurrence for 6 years?
Now I am very sad.

The thunder shirt that I bought for him finally last year and intended to train him to use it when we were comfortable and relaxed, and never did, so now I will never be able to verify whether it helps with thundering and fireworks. The one time I put it on him before the evening started, it made no difference whatsoever.

Thundershirt first arrives. March 2019.

It was hard enough going outside this morning, because he would always go to the same spot in the yard to have his morning poop. Every day. First thing. And he wasn’t there.

March 1
March 5
March 9
Is it rude that I started taking photos of him doing that?
I'm glad that I took some-- back in March-- but kept forgetting to have a camera in hand
as he dashed out first thing, and then I'd miss the shot.  So I gave up after 3 times.

And then picking up the yard and there was no poop for two dogs just one. I can’t do anything about that either.

Picking up the pieces of half-eaten paper from under and behind things where they fell--Chip was, for some unknown reason, fond of eating paper. Later on, he'd sometimes bring it to me after he had chewed off only a corner and drop it at my feet like he would a toy, after I started giving him treat "Trade"s for them. It did teach me to pick up papers from the floor as soon as the fell or I dropped them if they were important. If nothing else were around, he might pull one off the pile to be shredded or out of the paper recycling bin. 

Found this under one of the dog beds after he died.

Piles of toys in my bedroom and at the top of the stairs (and often at the bottom of, or on, the stairs): Chip almost always carried a toy with him when he thought I was heading upstairs for a nap or for the night. Might drop it on the top landing, or just inside my bedroom door. Sometimes when going downstairs after a nap or first thing in the morning, he'd grab one and carry it down with him.

[Another heartache--I can't find any photos of these toy piles!
Surely I'd have taken some--wouldn't I have??]

 Sometimes when I was busy in the bedroom (dressing, cleaning, what-not), he'd select one of the toys and push it against the ground with his mouth while chewing on it, trying to tempt me to play (and/or to find a possible squeaker). Or drop it at my feet to point out that I needed to stop being dull and play with a dog.

He was so very gentle with toys on most occasions. If I gave him and Zorro identical new toys, Zorro would squeak away at it enthusiastically, while Chip would push slowly at it with his nose, or bite it gently and slowly, and when no noise came out, he'd stare at Zorro as if to wonder why Chip always got the defective one. If I picked it up and squeaked it, his whole face would perk up, eyes wide, and then he'd try again, sometimes more forcefully and sometimes not.

When, this past winter, I finally discovered a toy that was of the size he likes and squeaked very easily, i searched for it online and in April ordered a whole box of them. A whole box. Set out 2 so far. And there most of them still sit, and will continue to sit, as my plan was to dole them out as each died. Zorro's not much into small toys, but he'd love to squeak these a little and then tear their ears and legs off and that would be the immediate end to them. I just can't do that.

Just his size -- Original Li'l red dog toy that I now have a box full of new ones. January 2020.

In mid-March, I bought a beautiful brand new, expensive, red and silver name tag for his collar to replace the one where the lettering was wearing out. Its ring was difficult to work with, so I set it on the table for later. As too often happens, I didn't get back to it. Last Friday or Saturday when I trimmed their toenails, I did wipe down his old tag to clear the dirt and make sure it really needed replacing. I pulled the new tag out of the box on the table, and then he started not looking that healthy, and then -- so there it sits.

June 19

His hair is collected on the upholstered backs and the sides of the seats of all of my dining chairs where he rubbed against them going past. I have to get that all off, too. Zorro wasn't quite that tall.

Only one dog’s poop in the yard. Small amounts of poop in the poop bin. Just silly stuff.

Do I leave two crates in the car for a few trips for Zorro? Will it matter to him? I’m moving him into the crate that Chip used to be in. On Chip’s side of the car. He seemed unperturbed when I’ve done that yesterday.

Likewise, do I leave two crates in the bedroom for a while, just put him into the one that Chip used to have for a few more days? I was going to just leave the small collapsible crate up instead of the larger soft crate, because that’s what Boost used her whole life., And that’s where Zorro has slept most of the time when I’ve used the crates. And I think she was a couple inches taller at the shoulder than he is, but he is much more upright than she was, So he can’t stand up completely straight without pushing against the top, which does get very easily, but still…

It has been very hot the last couple of days, so even though I want to get more done, I get very hot and thirsty very quickly, just from, say, sweeping the kitchen and hall. Plus I have to stop and collect myself. Dictating or even writing is very hard about this.

The night he died, I thought I would never get to sleep. But then, somehow, I did, early in the morning, and then slept well over six hours, which is unusual for me. And I don’t remember waking at all during that time.

Last night it wasn’t quite as dramatic; I woke groggily a couple of times to use the restroom, but fell right back asleep. It did take me a long time to fall asleep, though. I read for a while, turned out the light, wept often on for a while, then turned the light back on and read some more. At some point I fell asleep and turned out the light, because when I did wake up, the light was off, and the book was still in the bed with me.

Fitbit shows I slept 6 1/2 hours Wednesday night (the day he died) and 5 1/2 last night. Also shows that Wednesday night, the first four hours were pretty ragged sleep, and then fairly solid after that. And last night, it was kind of up and down and up and down.

Chip has been blowing his coat like crazy. Maybe I notice it more because I rub and pet him more than I do the other dog, so I see it coming out everywhere in clouds. I have been threatening to come them both for a couple of weeks now, and yet never did. Around four today, I did a bunch of combing on Zorro. He’s also blowing his coat. But Chip liked the process; Zorro does it for the treats and gets bored quickly.

At least I did finally get around to trimming their toenails on Sunday. Before I had a clue.

I’m just so angry as well as heartbroken. It just shouldn’t keep happening. I don’t know how to stop it. I do donate a lot to Morris Animal Foundation cancer funds, maybe more than I should sometimes, but this is just awful.

Some people say to give your dog an ultrasound at nine, but Chip's birthday was only a couple weeks ago. And it wouldn’t have helped by then. At Boost's ninth birthday probably nothing would’ve shown; hard to know, of course whether she’d been suffering for well over a year, but it seems unlikely. Unless you’re going to shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars a year for tests for each of your dogs, I don’t see how that helps.

I have been busily washing all of Chip's bedding and then suddenly realized that maybe Zorro would want some of his scent still around. Cried for a while about that, but hadn't washed all of the bedding in the kitchen yet so I'm leaving that for some time later. How long is enough? I have no idea.

6:09 PM

I just saw that San Jose had a 3.4 earthquake Wednesday morning at 10:35 AM. That was me sitting with the vet and the internal hit that was my world falling apart again fuck


  1. I feel so sad reading this. Some of it I think, don't do that so soon, Ellen, it's too hard. But it's too hard to not do these things too. There's just no right way to grieve. You do what works for you, or none of it. I'd have a hard time too. I know I will when it's time here.

    1. Yes, you can see that on the 17th and 18th I was pretty sure that I knew what I needed to do, but by the 19th I was second-guessing myself.
      Currently it's things that I can't do anything about, like saying to myself (out loud, because I do that a lot), "Maybe I'll have chips and cheese for lunch" and being quieter on the "chips" because I don't want Chip to think I'm talking about him, like I have for 6 years, and then--