The Black Dog (and the white one too)

Facebook reminded me this morning that on this day last year, we brought Sylvie home from an overnight at the vet.

On the Saturday night, she’d had an episode. I heard a fall and woke up to find her on her side. The carpet underneath her was wet. We took her to the regular vet on Sunday, and they suggested we take her to the emergency vet, where she was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension and sent home with meds that we hoped would work.

They didn’t. After a week of almost normal behavior, she started a slide and after weeks of heartbreak, we said goodbye to her on March 3, 2021. The grief was crushing. I knew it would hurt — indeed back in the good old days I’d joked that when the time finally came, I’d need a full week off of work — but was surprised at the intensity. I almost wished for an office job so that I had somewhere to go other than the house, the house that I’d spent pretty much every single day in with Sylvie and Lucy since moving in. I’d been working from home since before COVID. Now the house was a little quieter.

But I had Lucy to keep me company.

Then her kidneys started to go. We put her on medication. It seemed to help some. But her appetite fluctuated wildly — as did her tastes in food. I think I first really became concerned in July when we brought home a bison bone full of marrow from the local steakhouse just to see what she would do. No interest. She’d have good weeks and bad after that. It never got as bad as it did with Sylvie but toward the end we couldn’t leave her alone in the house because she was blind and deaf and a little disoriented. We said goodbye to her on December 20, 2021.

So that was basically 2021 was full year of dog-related depression. (Fun fact: “the black dog” was used as metaphor for depression as early as 65 B.C.) I couldn’t even tell you if COVID (in general; I’ve yet to catch it) and the other nonsense have had any impact on me because it’s been hard to see beyond what’s immediately in front of me: the prospect of a dog-less house becoming a reality.

I’d say it’s one of the main reasons I haven’t been writing much. But that might be bullshit. I didn’t write much the year before. In fact, I wrote more last year. Granted, pretty much everything I wrote last year was horror and it doesn’t take a shrink to figure that one out. The book I’d promised myself to finish, I couldn’t get my head around. I’ve got the plot — sort of — but I don’t know if I want it to be half-ass funny or just full on gross and disgusting.

Many writers will tell you that they grapple with this sort of stuff and are forced to ponder an age-old question. Am I not writing because I’m depressed or am I depressed because I’m not writing?

After much thought, I can tell you the answer is: probably both!

This isn’t going to became sad dog dad blog on the regular. Hell, I haven’t written here enough for it to be anything on the regular. Maybe I’ll start. Or I’ll start and get bored with it. After all, there’s only so much I can write about staring out the window or editing pieces about programmatic advertising. I guess I could go into every excruciating detail about my runs, especially the ones on the treadmill. “Yesterday, while still staring at the wall, I hit my stride at mile two …”

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