I am back at my parents' house, doing a weekend of dog- and cat-sitting. The Doberman, well: the Doberman was old. He was nearly 12. When I was animal-sitting here last, three months ago, he had been doing pretty poorly. But that weekend I was with him, he rallied. He had run about the yard, played fetch, let me chase him and chased me, and generally didn't act at all like the very aged, ailing dog he actually is. It was a joy to be with him.
It was his last good few days.
Two weeks ago, he collapsed - he legs just gave out from under him. My father was out walking him and basically had to carry him back to the car. He was put on steroids, but he had a bad reaction to them, so my mother started weaning him off. He collapsed again last week, desperately and pathetically crying when he was unable to make his legs work. He was carried again to the house. My mother put him back on the higher dose of steroids. But his kidneys were shutting down.
When I got here yesterday, he looked terrible. I pointed out that his ribs were severely distended on one side - he has benign tumors growing all over his body (it's a Doberman thing) but now it seemed there was one in his chest, which would eventually affect his heart. He was unable to control his bladder and was peeing everywhere. And then he would get upset he was peeing everywhere. And then he was upset his legs wouldn't do what he wanted them to do. It was heart-breaking to be around him.
And now he's gone.
He was a pain in the ass dog. My family, including my grandmother before she died, referred to him as, "the Asshole." He was needy, dependent - Dobermans are very driven and intense, but they are also insecure as fuck. He would follow everyone around desperate for attention. All the time. He had perfected the sad-eyes-looking-up-at-you-I'm-so-pathetic-you-must-pet-me look. Everyone hated driving him anywhere because he would bark loudly and shrilly in the driver's ear the entire way. He liked to chew on toys outside until they were full of mud and dog slobber and then rub them all over you in an effort to get you to play tug-of-war with him. He used to walk right up to you and rest his head and neck on your tummy, and then just stare at you, until you pet him. He would not move until you did this.
He was also the dog we didn't need to get.
When I was in high school, I spent a lot of time slipping into and out of my house through the sliding glass doors that lead out to the backyard. And other people slipped in and out, too. Most often, someone was sneaking in so we could have sex; but I also snuck out to go for drives with friends, take long walks around the neighborhood with folks who lived nearby just to talk, left by myself to go swing on the swings across the street at midnight to clear my head.
One night 12 years ago I fell asleep downstairs on the couch, waiting for a lover to come steal into the house. Unfortunately, my mother woke up in the middle of the night and came downstairs to let the dog, a mutt we had gotten from the pound many years earlier, out. She opened the back door and our dog trotted gayly over to my lover who had just walked into the backyard to say hello. My mother shrieked, because there was a strange person in the yard. My lover got startled and scared, and bolted. And I woke up to a hysterical parent yelling that we had to call the police because someone was trying to break into the house.
I named him Gabriel after Eli Wiesel's rendering of the angel (or perhaps the devil, you are never sure which) in the novel The Gates of the Forest, which I was reading at the time. It is appropriate you are never sure if Gabriel is good or evil in the book. Gabe the Doberman was the cutest puppy just ever, but dear lord he was an annoying dog. He was also ridiculously endearing in his pathetic neediness and sheer earnestness and accidental silliness, and everyone came to, very begrudgingly, love him. Including me.
That lover and I, though, whenever he would later come by to spend time during the light of the day, we always joked about the dog being ours. My lover especially had such fondness for Gabe, because really, he was responsible for Gabe being with us. When he asked after Gabe, he asked, "How is my dog?"
That lover would go on to be my rapist. So, you know. There is a lot, today.
I kept thinking I could draw lines, and they would be respected. I believed that the rape could be in a cordoned off section of my mind and my life, and I would only be thrust back into trauma and turmoil when I chose to cross the boundary into the rape place. But the rape, the lover, no, they keep invading the rest of my life, crossing that line, having no respect for walls or geography. I think I have everything in it's place, and then some hurricane-like wind comes and blows shit everywhere and I am ill-prepared and caught off-guard. I kept thinking I can manage my rape; I kept being wrong. I cannot erase the ten years of my life I spent with my rapist. I wish I could just scrub the parts of him that are there away, but I know because of how memories and moments are connected, then I'd have nothing left.
I need to stop pretending I will reach some magical threshold where I will finally and forever after have everything nice and neat and in its place and under control. I am fucking tired of being raped, I am so over writing about it here, I hate how it just never seems to end. But I can't keep up with the illusion that I can close drawers or delimit spaces. Because then I am just that much more vulnerable, and surprised, when the lines are ignored. It feels then, when some raw emotion from a past trauma charges through across my chest and sets everything aflame, like all the walls I have slowly, painfully built and all the order I had worked so hard to create have been destroyed, and I am back to the beginning again. It is a horrible, desperate, exhaustion. When really all that work into building nice, neat spaces was an illusion, anyway. Those walls were nothing but smoke. I can't contain feelings and emotions. I can only weather them when they come.
I took these pictures of Gabe in the minutes before my parents took him to the vet. I loved him. I miss him. And I don't believe in heaven, but I hope wherever Gabe is, he is with someone who is happy to have a mud- and dog drool-covered toy rubbed all over them before they play tug-of-war.