3 weeks ago today was one of the worst days of my life. It’s the day we lost Griffin very tragically and completely out of the blue. It took a week for me to accept that Griffin is gone, this despite the fact that I was with him through the entire terrible episode , hugging and petting him as he underwent treatment, and bawling my eyes out into his fur as he took his last breath. For the first few days I had a hard time getting out of bed. I didn’t want to go downstairs because some little piece of my brain wanted to believe he was still there, waiting for me in the kitchen like every other morning. Getting up would dash any hope that everything had just been a bad dream.
I continued to take Milo and Hunter for walks, and in certain spots- next to the big pine tree, up in the corner by the oak- I expected Griff to pop out of the woods and rejoin us like he always did after a squirrel or bunny caught his eye and he ran off in a fervent attempt to catch it.
The hole that he’s left here is huge. It’s like a different house, a different farm, a different Milo. A different life.
Milo sleeps more, and behaves better. That might sound good, but it’s not. If you’ve never had an Airedale you’ll have a hard time understanding the energy that comes with the breed. Not just energy in an “I need to run like a fool” sense. That’s lab and GSP and golden retriever energy. Airedale energy is less like an 8 year old on Red Bull, and more like a teenager with his parent’s credit card in one pocket, and a fake ID and the keys to the convertible in the other. Airedale energy is driven by rebellion, hedged by an overwhelming desire to have a good time. Always.
When I wrote about losing old Gryphon, it still hurt, but it was easier. Old Gryphon had a good long life, he prepared us for his end, and when it came we were sad to see him go, but happy to see him go like he did. Writing about losing new Griffin is different.
Losing new Griff was sudden and incomprehensible. Three weeks later I still can’t believe he’s gone. I still cry occasionally and I still think that somehow he might just pop up out of the blue. I truly feel like I’ve lost my best friend. He was an awesome cuddler, he played a mean game of Biteyface (it’s an Airedale thing), and I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone, person or animal, enjoy life quite as much as Griffin did.
Shortly after Griff came into our lives we were concerned that he was deaf. We could come home to find him sound asleep on the couch or his dog bed and no matter how loud we were he wouldn’t even flinch, let alone awaken. But whenever Griffin napped, even if we’d been in the house all along, the second he opened an eye and saw us, he would do cartwheels and backflips. I’ve never seen a dog (or anyone, for that matter) so excited to see his friends.
I miss the way Griffin would suddenly decide in the middle of the night that it was time to sleep on our bed. While Milo always creeps up, Griffin eschewed grace in favour of insistence. He crashed wherever he landed, regardless of legs and arms pinned underneath. He loved to get comfy with people, kind of odd for an airedale, and when he decided he wanted to snuggle, there was nothing closer to a living teddy bear.
It’s taken me 3 weeks to write something about losing Griffin. Even now it feels awkward and wrong. I still don’t know how to deal with his loss, but I believe that in some sense he’s still here. I don’t know how he could be anywhere else.
The day he left us I pushed a peony blossom into the ground where we laid him to rest. Today I noticed that, 3 weeks later, despite a near-hurricane that took out huge trees, downed power lines, and snapped poles like twigs, Griffin’s peony is still there, right where I left it. I don’t know what that means, but I’d like to believe it’s some sort of sign… of something.
I look forward to the day when the Airedale insanity returns to our house and our lives. Griffin can never be replaced, but if I know him, he’s just waiting for a chance to channel his infinite Airedale energy through another willing candidate. The body may have died, but energy like that hangs on for a long time to come. I just wish it didn’t leave such a huge hole in the soul.
We love you Fluffy.