Saturday, September 20, 2008

Thank You

I just wanted to thank everyone who has posted a comment, and so many others who have emailed me, offering support and happy memories of Wiley. I know there will be a day when I can remember all our great adventures together and the unconditional happiness he gave me for so many years, but it is not today.

Probably won't be tomorrow, either.

In any case, I gave Wiley's remaining treats to my favorite line cook Jerry, who has two dogs of his own, and will be giving his bedding and bowls to Bridget and Brian. This morning I also made a donation in his memory to Best Friends Animal Society. I told them to use the money where it's needed most but, all things being equal, it would mean a lot to me if they could use it to support one of their programs helping stray animals overseas. They do a lot of work helping people in poor countries or anti-pet countries establish shelters, and they've also gotten pets and strays alike out of war zones and disaster areas. I like to think that another feral street puppy in some dumpy country somewhere might get the chance at a better life in Wiley's name.

This morning I woke up early, as usual, and not knowing what else to do took myself for a walkies. At work, I had the opportunity (a few times, actually) to yell at my assistant for truly careless mistakes, and I learned that it is not possible to cry and have a Gordon Ramsay moment at the same time.

I opted for the Gordon Ramsay moment.

The retired Swiss chef who comes in on the weekends to do prep work told me about a dog he'd lost, and how for weeks after the dog had died, he would still go to the door every morning with leash in hand, waiting to put on his pet's collar until he remembered. He told me it will take time to get over Wiley, which I know, and to let myself mourn him. Everything else can wait, he said.

Then he told me to go home and have a drink.

Well, I'm drinking... Aveda's "soothing" herbal tea, to be exact, and listening to Sigur Ros, which always fills me with peace.

When I was at the kennel on Thursday morning, Bridget gave me a print-out of The Rainbow Bridge poem. I didn't want to say it, but I thought "oh, no." Most of you know how much I hate poetry, especially the gooey, sentimental sort, and those of you familiar with the poem know it's definitely in that category. I've read it before, but hadn't seen this version, which claimed to be "inspired by a Norse legend."

Suddenly the poem seemed less lame to me, though I had to research the connection. (Okay, I googled it.) Turns out they're stretching the inspiration for Rainbow Bridge to be Bifrost, the bridge separating Midgard (our world) from Asgard (kinda like heaven, only with more drinking), and it's apparently the same bridge the warriors judged worthy of Valhalla cross on their merry way.

That amused me, because one of Wiley's early names, and one he occasionally deserved when sufficiently crazied-up, was Fenrir.

If you love the Rainbow Bridge poem and take comfort in it, hey, God bless. Me, I'm sitting here listening to my elegiac Icelandic "post-rock" and imagining Wiley running amok on Bifrost, barking his "bacon bark" until Heimdall finally relents and throws him a piece of roast beast.

And that thought makes me smile.


tommy said...

WHAT??? He died??? I was sure that dog was gonna live to fifteen! Well... maybe not so sure. He must have been about twelve when I first started reading your blog, so truth be known, I've been expecting this post for a while. Nevertheless, it's not easy, and I'm really sorry for your loss. I remember all too well how difficult it was to part with Copilot. It's been almost two years now, and I still miss him. I've never been one to invest much in the idea of an afterlife, but I can imagine Wiley and Copes fighting over some smelly, nasty old rope toy on a cloud somewhere...

While I never met Wiley (or yourself, for that matter), I can't help but feel a sense of loss. My condolences to you.

Dr. Virago said...

Ugh, the Rainbow Bridge. God how I hate that thing -- it's on every dog adoption site. See, this is why you hate poetry. I blame glurge like that calling itself poetry. I blame bad high school poetry. And I blame the fact that you didn't get enough Old English poetry and Old Norse Eddic poetry in your formative years.

Or even W. H. Auden's The Musse de Beaux Arts, which you might actually like particularly at this moment. You might want to google it. Or the Old English poems The Wanderer or Wulf and Eadwacer (which uses canine and lupine imagery to depict longing and desire). There are lots of different translations of the last two out there -- different ones will give you a different sense of each poem, but all should makes their elegaic qualities clear. If you like Sigur Ros, you should like those.

The Pastry Pirate said...

Tommy: thanks. I'm sorry you lost Copilot, but thank you for understanding. And yes, Wiley was old, but for me the shock of it was that he had just gotten back to himself after being sick earlier in the month. That and not being with him, missing his passing by minutes because I stopped to get gas and groceries on the way to the kennel, is what's eating at me.

DrV: Eh. I know you're trying to help me get over my metrophobia, but the Auden poem did nothing but annoy me. The Wulf and Weedwhacker poem was kinda confusing and made me too irritable to sort it out.

The Wanderer I kinda liked, though I wished it hadn't been, you know, a poem, but around line 92 I thought "hey, I've heard this before..." Sure enough there was a note at the end of the translation that mentioned Tolkien pretty much ripped off that bit of the poem in "The Two Towers."

And yes, when I read LOTR I mostly skimmed or skipped the poetry bits, though I remember those lines from the TT movie, with that great scene of Theoden getting ready for battle.

As an aside, when I tried to find the term for "fear of poetry," I stumbled on this weird site, which I think is unintentionally hilarious:

I think it's a phobia treatment center that has its website set up to sub in whatever word you google.

Another aside: did you ever see "King Arthur" (the one starring Clive Owen)? I can't recall. Awful movie for many reasons, but I do adore how Stellan Skarsgard played the Saxon villain, Cerdic, as a bored and world-weary badass (one of my fave bad guy performances ever!). And I gotta say, when I was reading both of the Old English poems you mentioned, all I could think of was Cerdic in some meadhall rolling his eyes as the skald recited the evening's verse...

I dunno if "skald" is the right word for the time and place we're talking here, but you get the idea.

Anyway, thanks for trying to help, but poetry for me is, well, you know...

Virgo Sis said...

I am late in offering my condolences, but I know how much it hurts to lose a pet who has been part of your life for so long. Just remember, most people would love to come back as your dog. You gave Wiley a great life. (And don't tell my sister, but I hate most poetry, too.)

Dr. Virago said...

Don't tell *my* sister, but she cried when I read Christina Rossetti at mom's funeral -- or rather, cried harder than she had already been crying.

PP - Don't try figuring out Wulf and Eadwacer (which, btw, means Wolf and Border-walker -- I thought you might find that cool). It *can't* be figured out. But I like the idea of "our song together" being wolf howls. Thought you'd like that, but maybe the versions you found didn't point that out. It *is* cooler in OE. Someday I'll teach you the OE.

And scop is the word you're looking for. Pronounced with a "sh" and rhymes with "hope."

You've got to promise me that someday you'll let me show what I find cool about my favorite poems -- including that Auden poem, which I should've read at mom's funeral and instead read on 9/11 in class this year. And started crying. (See, I thought you'd dig the stoic "life continues" themes.)

Maybe if you rapped poetry you'd like it. :)

Dr. Virago said...

PS -- I still can't believe you like Sigur Ros. They so "arty" they belong in a Mac ad.