Unless you’re invited, you don’t get to see other dogs’ favorite places and moments. Chester loved playing in the sprinkler so much, he was always inviting other dogs to join him, sure that they wanted to be part of the fun. Hugo was on his way back from watching Chester, chuckling to himself about what he saw. Biting at the water. Hopping back and forth over the sprinkler. Running around in circles, darting here and there as he dodged and charged at the water, until he’d created a huge messy mud pit and his sides bulged with water. It wasn’t Hugo’s thing but it sure was entertaining to watch!
He needed the cheering up. While not as frequent as when he first arrived, he still felt Kevin’s sadness sometimes. Unexpected, intense, lingering. And it made him sad too. Sad that Kevin was still grieving, that he couldn’t pop back over there to lick his face for just a moment, that he couldn’t let Kevin throw a ball into the pool so he could jump in and grab it and see the smile on his face.
He lay down in the green grass, pondering these feelings that weren’t his and yet were.
“Hey there, you look far away in your thoughts,” Zippy observed as he walked over to Hugo.
Hugo rolled around on his back in the grass, then popped back up for an ear-to-tail full body shake. “I know you said time isn’t the same here, which I get. I don’t know how long it’s been since I arrived and maybe it’s normal. Kevin is still sad a lot. You mentioned he was sad when you left but I didn’t get the impression it lasted for very long. It makes me sad too and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Zippy wasn’t surprised. He’d heard similar sentiments from other dogs around here. “What I’m about to say won’t make it any better,” he cautioned, “but maybe it’ll explain things. Every pet and human relationship is different. Their personalities are different – look at the two of us – and they find each other at different points in that person’s life. All we want is to be with our person and are happy when we have that. People have more ups and downs. More sadness, more happiness, things that happen to them that they respond to with different emotions. And we’re there to love them unconditionally, whatever they’re going through, good and bad and everything in between. It all figures into how hard it is when you say goodbye to each other.”
Zippy was right. It didn’t make him feel better but there was a logic to it that he got.
“You told me that when Kevin and Simon fell in love with you, you were a little puppy,” continued Zippy. “You were their first pet they had together. In a new home, the first home they’d bought together. You became part of every memory they had in that new home. Every decision they made about how to teach you stuff, what to feed you, treats and toys to buy you, whether to take you with them on trips. This was new for them and you were a part of all of it. You were particularly special to Kevin because you reminded him of me. I don’t say that in an arrogant way. We had so many great memories together and he was excited to get another dog like me. That’s why he grew attached to you in a way that Simon didn’t, and why it’s hard for him now.
“I don’t believe he will ever get over you. He will, however, get better. I’ve seen it a lot – I know. You will still sense his emotions. They won’t be as intense as they are now, and they won’t always be sad. When he’s especially happy about something, or when there’s a big event, you’ll feel it with him. I remember when you joined him and Simon. I didn’t quite know what it was but I knew something wonderful had happened. The feelings I sensed from him grew further and further apart after that, and after a while, it occurred to me that he had found you. I didn’t know it was you of course – I only knew that he had another dog to love and who loved him. And that made me happy. Who knows, the same might happen again, and you won’t feel sad. You’ll be happy for him that another dog becomes a piece of his life, just like you and I are.”
Hugo thought about all that Zippy had said. He thought about Kaydon back there, though he sensed that Kaydon’s waiting, whenever he arrived, might be for someone else. He wouldn’t know for sure until it was nearly time for him to arrive. Whatever happens, Hugo thought, he did like the idea of Kevin having another dog that would make him happy, soothe him when he was sad, make him laugh, want to be near him. And he knew that he would see that dog eventually. Maybe they would become a brood as big as Donnie’s even! He liked that idea.
“Are you OK? You look far away.”
Hugo’s mind wandered back to Zippy. “I’m good. Just thinking about all you said. I trust your experiences, and believe you that Kevin will continue to feel better.”
“There’s something else you can do. You’re not ready for it yet but when the time comes, I’ll share it with you, I promise.”
“But if Kevin is sad now, shouldn’t I do something now? If you know what it is, I think you should tell me.”
“I don’t mean to be mysterious. If you tried it now, it wouldn’t work anyway, and could make things even worse. You’re just going to have to trust me again. We’ll know when you’re ready.”
Hugo, though frustrated with this response, was tired and didn’t feel like arguing when it wouldn’t get him anywhere, so he dropped it.
“Hey, I bet Chester’s still playing in the sprinkler! Want to go watch him?” Zippy offered up, hoping to take Hugo’s mind off wherever it was.
Hugo smiled. Watching that spectacle always cheered him up. “Sure, why not. Let’s go see how muddy he is now!”
And off they went, side by side, towards the sound of splashing water and Chester barking as his mouth filled with water.