Missing Big Dog.

2 Jan

Big Dog

This is the first time we’ve been in the Snowy Mountains without our Big Dog, who died a few weeks ago after fourteen years with us.

On the drive down we reminisced and cried a bit at all the places we drove through where we used to stop to let him run and pee and drink, before loading him back in the car and continuing further south. Here, in the house where we always stay, there’s an empty space where his bed used to be and his absence is so strong it’s a presence.

Big Dog loved the mountain air, especially as he got older and his lungs packed up. The only thing I miss about home just now is looking out the kitchen window at his grave under the mango tree. Home is hot, wet, humid, and there are mosquitos so there’s not a lot to miss compared to this:

Cascades Track

Whenever I came home Big Dog would take my forearm gently in his mouth between his great big teeth and softly gnaw me. That was him saying hello! I’m so glad you’re back! It’s wonderful to see you! I’ve missed you so much!

I can honestly say I’ve never known a human who’d do that for me.

The mountains are for me a place of reflection, self-accounting and deep contemplation. Each time I come here I never want to leave. I think it was Seneca who recommended that we take time every night to recall the events of the day and fall asleep at peace with them. This, he claimed, is our preparation for death, so that we leave the world as we’ve left each day, as settled as possible with the events of our lives.

In a small way I understood this with Big Dog’s death. We had a few days to prepare ourselves, to make it the best death possible for him after a long, honourable life filled with love and affection. We know he did his best with his life and that we did our best with his life and death as well. I don’t know if this counts for much in the scheme of things, but it seems significant.

We don’t have anything of value other than our lives. The rest is dross. Know thyself, says Plato through Socrates, and what that means, I think, is that the more knowledge I have of myself, the less likely I am to do harm to others, and the more willing and able  I am to make amends for the harm I inevitably do.

But anyway. Look at this and lift your eyes unto the hills, and good wishes for this brand new year.

Cascades Track Two

5 Responses to “Missing Big Dog.”

  1. paul walter January 2, 2015 at 10:47 pm #

    They are superb pics of what looks an almost criminally beautiful, cool piece of nature..

    He looks a ripper knockabout dog and can see what you miss him, funny how bad it can feel, for the passing of a pet.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 3, 2015 at 6:37 am #

      We are so indoctrinated to assume the human species is the only one worth grieving for, and that couldn’t be more wrong.

      I don’t think I’ve ever loved any place like I love these Snowy Mountains and foothills and surrounds. Time to leave the sub tropics perhaps.


  2. paul walter January 3, 2015 at 2:28 pm #

    For me, winter somewhere about the top end, Tassie in summer…


  3. DeeEmmDee (@DebinMelbourne) January 3, 2015 at 10:59 pm #

    We still miss our beautiful old boy, Tosh the labrador. He had a wonderful life, and a dignified death with his tummy full of liver treats. I still see him out of the corner of my eyes.


  4. Anne L January 4, 2015 at 9:20 am #

    Beautiful mountains and beautiful words. Made me cry and I remember our Pointer -Brady who has been gone for 12 years! I still see him on the road where we used to walk.


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