Tierce: You’re not getting up to feed me with the alacrity that this task should inspire.
Me: I’m kind of under the weather right now.
Tierce: Because I’m sitting here, so obviously wasting away?
Me: No… a friend’s cat died today and I’m unhappy for them.
Tierce: What do you mean, it had to go into a kennel or something?
Me: No, it means that it went to sleep and will never wake up. Like Shassi did.
Tierce: Not even to eat?
Me: Not even to eat.
Tierce: Will that ever happen to me?
Me: …yes, it will happen to you. But not for a long, long time, I hope.
Tierce: I wouldn’t like not eating ever again.
Me: Well, you wouldn’t feel anything, so you wouldn’t be hungry or in pain.
Tierce: Would you be unhappy if I died?
Me: Yes. I will be very sad.
Tierce: Maybe I won’t die.
Me: No, Tierce, one day you will.
Tierce: Well, it’s not happening now and the kibble is still not in the dish where it belongs.
Me: You’re right; it’s not happening now and I’m not going to dwell on it. Having my friends’ cat die, even though he lived a long and happy life, makes me think of how sad I’ll be when you die and how sad I was when Shassi died.
Tierce: Cheer up! Maybe you’ll die before I do.
Me: Thanks for the thought, but dogs’ and cats’ lifespans are shorter than humans’.
Tierce: Maybe the vet could fix me.
Me: Oh, Tierce. The vet can fix a lot of things, but they can’t fix that.
Tierce: Why do you have dogs and cats if they die and make you sad?
Me: Because the happiness that they bring into my life and the lives of my friends makes it worth it.
Tierce: Well, obviously, *I’m* worth it. Except being fed; apparently I’m not worth that.
Me: I’ll get your food. I might add that sometimes the happiness is of a strange and inexplicable nature.
Tierce: *chomp chomp chomp* So, we ont a’ways ‘ake ‘oo ‘appi?
Me: No, sometimes you drive me into a homicidal rage. And you’re expensive. And you need constant care and management.
Tierce: So, why ‘oo you kee’ me a’ound?
Me: Because I chose to bring you into my life and I love you. Despite some of your more spectacular displays of ‘unique Shiba temperament’.
Tierce: Ah… stomach is happier. I might yet live to see another day. You know, it seems that pet owners don’t get the best out of this arrangement.
Me: Well… in a lot of ways, owning you and Shassi was and is like having children. It’s messy, expensive and they don’t always grow up the way you want them to. Often, they don’t even seem to give a shit about you or how you’re feeling. You live for moments where there’s a flash of connection between you, when you exist in a perfect state of happiness and companionship. A lot of time it doesn’t happen without a load of work and sacrifice, but sometimes those flashes are even better than the ones between you and a dog that doesn’t require so much work.
Tierce: So the fact that Shassi didn’t give a shit and I only rarely do means you love me more?
Me: No… it means that the harder I work to make us connect, the stronger the bond I have with you is.
Tierce: What if it isn’t the same for me? You know, I don’t think that your definition of ‘love’ matches my own. In fact, what if I don’t even have the capability of love? What then?
Me: In the end, it doesn’t matter if your definition of love isn’t the same as mine or even exists at all – it matters that I love you. And that I chose you, knowing what you are and that you don’t look at the world the same way I do.
Tierce: I’ll say. You don’t appreciate cat poop for the unique delicacy that it is.
Me: No. No I don’t. And you better not be going into the part of the yard where the cat crap is, or I’ll-
Tierce: What? Cry if you kill me in a fit of rage over my perceived lack of human social mores?
Me: I would never anthropomorphize you.
Tierce: No, but you’ll put a stupid jester’s cap on me and upload it to Facebook.
Me: That was justifiable humour.
Tierce: Says the person who puts words in my mouth All. The. Time.
Me: Also completely explainable and legitimate entertainment.
Tierce: How much longer do I have to put up with this?
Me: About 10 years, give or take. Shassi died at 16 and you’re 4 1/2. So maybe 12 years.
Tierce: Wow. So you would cry if I died, but you have no objection to torturing me.
Me: I could dress you up in funny little dog suits.
Tierce: The jester cap would be fine. You could even bury me with it; at least it won’t be used to torment some other helpless Shiba.
Me: You see? This is kind of the balance between love and hate that forges those strong bonds that make people want to cry when someone dies.
Tierce: Yeah, okay, I get that. I’m sure that there will be buckets of tears.
Me: Yeah, there will. Well, for you. I’m sure that you’d come home from my funeral after being kicked out of the cemetary for digging in the graveyard.
Tierce: Does it hurt?
Me: Digging in a graveyard? Not unless the undertaker helps you out the gates with the toe of his boot.
Tierce: No, to die.
Me: Um, sometimes.
Tierce: I don’t want it to hurt when I die.
Me: It might hurt, but it’s my job to make sure that if you’re sick or old and the vet can’t fix it, that you go to sleep and don’t wake up.
Tierce: How will you know?
Me: I’ll watch you very carefully. There’s no one good way to tell, but if you stop eating, become incontinent or are not enjoying your walks – those are signs that you’re not enjoying life and it’s time to put you to sleep. It’s better than having you in constant pain.
Tierce: Will I ever wake up?
Me: Some people think that you’ll wake up in a wonderful place called the Rainbow Bridge or Heaven. But… I haven’t seen any evidence that you will.
Tierce: What do you think will happen?
Me: I think that you will go to sleep and you will never wake up.
Tierce: It’s better than being in pain, though.
Me: Yes, it is better. However, I wish that there were a place where I knew we would meet again.
Tierce: Maybe there is.
Me: Anything is possible; I just can’t depend on that for a lot of human reasons.
Tierce: Humans think too much.
Me: Yeah. Yeah they do.
Tierce: We should go to the dog park!
Me: You know what? We should. Let’s go.
Tierce: Yay! Get my leash!
Me: Thanks for the chat. I must confess that I feel better knowing that you live in the present and tend to forget stuff that isn’t right in front of you.
Tierce: Chat? OH LOOK AT THAT LEAF! I MUST HAVE THE LEAF!
Me: Yeah… the chat we had about death.
Tierce: Death? Can you stop a minute? I’m peeing here. What’s death?
Me: It’s… you know what? Never mind. That’s a lovely stick you’ve got there.
Tierce: T’ank ‘oo.
This brought tears to my eyes. It’s all so true.