In her fourteen years living with us, my beagle-dog used to walk the perimeter of our yard sniffing the various grungy bits that accrued against the fences, and scouting for intruding wildlife. Over time, her constant tread wore away the flora along a narrow path beside the yard's edge, leaving this dirt trail by which one could mark the dog's rounds. This past weekend she died, and already when I wander through the yard now, in the afternoon on a day at the leading tip of spring, the path is being subsumed into its surroundings, dried leaves accumulating and creepers of grass beginning to wend their way into the unoccupied dirt. Eventually, within a few weeks or months, the path will be completely gone, and with it any trace in our yard that the dog roamed there for so long. That thin dirt line seems a more tangible expression than most, of the way one's mark on the world fades slowly with time in absence, other life and other problems filling in the space---physical and in the minds of others---that one used to occupy. My dog's place in our memories is much more lasting than her imprint in the grass, but the visceral strength of our recollections will diminish over time, and in the gray years of the future I'll probably remember her more in the abstract, as my dog when I was young, as opposed to the sound of her feet padding in the hallway, or the feel of her warm fur when she lay in the sun on summer days. But dogs have none of the longing to be remembered in posterity that drives some people to complete a magnum opus or erect a monumental tomb, and so we'll mark her passing in a simple way that she would herself have appreciated, by having Taco Bell burritos, with extra meat and sour cream.
Here's a 40 oz. (steak) for you, dog.
September 8, 1989 ---
February 28, 2004
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