Dogs live completely in the moment. Reminding us to do the same is one of their greatest gifts. Atlas constantly grounded me in small precious moments. I vividly remember the time I took this photo because I knew even then that Atlas was teaching me about how to live. Stop and smell the grass. And so we did… more and more. Life was stressful and I was becoming increasingly aware of the fact that our time together was finite. But we had then…so I watched, and I breathed, and I marveled at how happy the simple pleasures made Atlas. He was reveling in the glorious smell and feel of grass. It was a good moment. He provided me with so many good moments.
I’m cataloging them in my mind. I can never capture them all in writing. And though they are precious to me, I doubt they’d have value to others. It’s the compilation of idiosyncrasies and shared moments that make the relationship with a loved one unique. A private club with a membership of two.
I miss so many of Atlas’s ways…daily…hourly. I find myself struggling not to compare Halley, but I miss his endearing habits. Every morning the minute Atlas heard a change in my breathing, his tail would thump loudly on the floor. It always made me smile. It was a great way to wake up. We called him “Tail Wagger” and “Thumper” among other names. I know not terribly creative, and a bit embarrassing, but many dog lovers probably relate. I know Halley is happy to see me, but she’s not as demonstrative. Also, Halley shows little interest in toys. Every once in awhile I can get her to play, but it’s just not her thing. I miss how Atlas would do his play bow and bark. Then he’d give me a look with his tongue hanging out “You game?” I think he liked playing with me because he felt he had a chance of winning- a good one.
Here are some other memories I’ve been polishing lately. I miss the way he pranced through the grass when it was time to eat: his tail straight out, his footwork like a horse performing dressage. I miss the way he pressed down on my arm with his muzzle to wake me up if he had waited long enough for breakfast or the bathroom. I miss how every morning and evening I cuddled up next to his large warm body and smelled his fur while he curled his toes, stretched his legs and sighed in contentment. I miss how he followed me up the stairs with a look like he’d won a prize. Then he’d lay down on the landing next to me while I was on the computer. I miss the sound of him lapping water.
Those moments were countless. Those moments were precious. Those moments are gone.
I am fortunate in that I truly treasured them as they happened. I wish I could find comfort in that. But I just miss them all the more because I knew their value. I do not want to live in the small moments now. They are painfully empty. My teacher is gone.