RIP Nighteyes, beloved dog of the Davids
A glossy black and white Navajo sheepdog peered down from the edge of the Rainbow Bridge, then looked across at a grey and black mottled Australian shepherd and asked, "Monique, do you think it's time?"
"Yes, Tipper, I think it is, but he doesn't want to join us yet. Shall we visit him?"
"Perhaps it's best to send some dog he knows, but who?"
The two ambled over to the meadow where a varied pack of dogs were playing and napping. "Dogs, Nighteye's time has come but he's wary of the journey. We need volunteers to visit him. Is any dog up to slipping past the veil and talking to him?"
"I'll go!" said Bruno Reddog, "We had many good talks when he stayed at my house."
"Me, too," said Chuy Rex. "We were friends. I'll go with Bruno."
The shaggy red dog and the Xoloitzcuintle started off to the Bridge, stopping first at Schrödinger's Box where cats who disappeared are wont to sit. "Frida, are you in there? We're heading down to talk to Nighteyes and thought you might want to come."
"Well, I'm here and I'm not," called Frida. "Tell that old dog I miss him and if he'll come up here, I might come out for a visit."
Walking on, the two dogs slipped over the edge of the Bridge and enter the Land of Dreams where they can visit with those in the earthly realm.
"Hey, Nights, how's tricks?" asked Bruno, remembering they both knew how to sit when told.
"Not too good," murmured the old black dog with an increasingly white muzzle. "I had this… this thing in my mouth that wouldn't let me eat. My humans took me to a scary place and I wanted to bitebitebite the people there and they took me home. But then they took me again and made me fall asleep and, when I came home, the thing in my mouth was gone and I could eat again. I'd thought about joining you dogs but I felt sooo much better and decided to stay here, even though they kept taking me back to that place when I felt sleepy. To tell the truth, though, I've been feeling awfully tired and I heard at the Bridge you are young and healthy again. Is that true?"
"Oh yes!" said Chuy Rex. "Look at me! Look at Bruno! We have energy again and can eat and eat and eat and play like we used to."
The old black dog lifted his head and gazed toward his sleeping humans. "Sounds great, but I can't leave them. They need me and they'll be so sad if I go. They need me to take them on walks and make them smile. And my Nellie! I need to see her again."
"I know, I know," said the red dog. "But here's something to consider. Sometimes when you're old, or very sick, or very old and sick, your humans have to make what they call The Decision. That means they have to decide to let you go and help you across the Rainbow Bridge. My human had to decide that for me and, let me tell you, it tore her heart. If you slip away, you spare them that agony."
"That's right," said the hairless black dog. "I knew it was coming even though my human thought I was just sick, so I slipped away in the back seat of the car before we got to the place of strange smells. She cried, and so did some of the people at the scary smelly place, but at least she didn't have to make The Decision."
"I understand, but… but it's so hard for me to decide. I want to go to a lake with my people again and see them smile when I splash. And there's my Nellie. I want to hike one more trail with her and wade in one more stream."
"Nights, Mr. Dog, we're your friends and we're sad to tell you that you don't have any more hikes or splashes left. They treasure your company but the time isn't far off when they will be faced with The Decision. Make it for them, old friend, and spare them that. When the time is right and the stars align, you can come visit them in their dreams. Come with us now."
The old black dog looked toward where his people sleep and took a deep sniff of the smells of them, of home, of life, then wagged his tail, gave an anticipatory shudder, then stood up, the white disappearing from his muzzle, and placed his paw on the Bridge to join his friends in crossing.
"I'm going to miss them," he said, glancing back.
"We know, we miss them too, and they will miss you, but you can look in on them from the top of the Bridge while you wait for them to join us."
As they near the top of the Bridge, Nighteyes noticed a crowd gathering. Standing under a welcoming banner were dozens of dogs – Tipper, Monique Davidogue, Betsy, Charlie, Zimmerman Pigdog, Blackie, Charlotte – and a few cats. His step hastened, his eyes bright, and he asked, "Is Frida here too?"
"Well, she is and she isn't," said Chuy Rex. "It's a long story and I'll tell you right after we eat and show you the creek and the softest bed you've ever slept in."
The healthy young black dog cast one last longing look back at the house in Ajo, the apartment in Tucson, and the people he loves and whispered, "I love you. I'll be waiting, but take your time." Then he joined in the throng of the welcoming party.
Rest in peace, Nighteyes, beloved dog of Nellie, Hop, Mop, Gabrielle and Nicolette David.
Gabrielle David is the editor of the Ajo Copper News.