In all my thoughts and posts and ruminations about what we leave behind when we move, I never mentioned our faithful dog, the seventh member of our family, Sydney.
Sydney's been with us for ever so long – since before we even had any children. He was a great comfort to me when I was finishing up my dissertation, struggling to start our family, and making a home in all the various places we have lived. No matter where we were, he always valiantly adjusted and made himself at home, because home to him was food, a warm place to sleep, and most importantly, us. He was enthusiastic about everything – swims in the pond, trips to the ocean, games of frisbee in which he could go on longer than any human could. He sweetly welcomed each new family member, though he may have been confused as he watched each baby grow bigger and bigger over time. He was an amazingly cheerful and resilient dog who was just happy to be nearby.
Now I sit here, so sad, because we left Sydney in Japan with my husband (who still works there) for what we thought would be a temporary amount of time until we got permanently settled and could bring him home. In the back of my mind, I had visions of him in our new house and thought that we would be able to give him more of the loving attention that has gone by the wayside as life got hectic and busy. I thought we could comfort him in his old age. Now I know we probably won't have that chance, because he is very, very sick. We don't even know if he'll make it until we go back for a visit in a few weeks. And he's most certainly too sick to make it on a plane ride back to the U.S.
I've had dogs die before, and that was really hard. But now I know that the only thing harder than having a dying dog is having a dog dying far away from you, so that you cannot give him a last hug, brush his fur a last time, take him on a walk in the sunshine, and comfort him as he says goodbye.