Good ol' Chekov. Born nearly 15 years ago in northern Thailand in a litter of pups all named for Star Trek characters, and traveling twice around this planet, our handsome Bangkaew simply wore out. Buffered by 12,000 miles, receiving the call from a Bangkok neighbor seemed so artificial, yet feelings of grief, sadness, and relief bubbled to the surface, mixed with varying waves of guilt, as we were not there to comfort him in his final days. Was he depressed at not seeing us for two weeks? Was he confused? Or was it simply his time? Of course, we can never know.
Mingled with the sadness were happy memories of "Pooper" that had accumulated over the years: Foremost was the "Pooper Speedway," the full throttle dash around people, furniture, buildings and trees after enduring his hated baths, or upon the return of his pet humans--especially Kat--after a prolonged absence. The memory of him head down, fluffy coat streaming in the wind, is one of pure joy.
Other behaviors, not uncommon for dogs, but given Chekov's unique stamp, included the excitement of a ride in a car--any car (he was known to jump in with complete strangers)--and particularly the drive-through for a hamburger. I don't think he ever figured out the difference between McDonald's and the bank. I suspect that the reason he never liked Milk Bones from the bank tellers is due to the disappointment he must have felt when expecting a meat patty. A dry, crumbly piece of fiber just couldn't measure up to a juicy quarter pounder. Our car held a cache of uneaten dog biscuits in the back seat.
But most of all, as pet owners know (or is it we who are pets of human owners?) it is the fierce loyalty and deep unconditional love that he gave us. Lying next to us as he watched our backs, or defiantly stepping between us and unfamiliar dogs, even those many times his size, his priority was his adopted pack. Some people never adopt animals because they know they cannot emotionally deal with the pain of a pet's inevitable death. Would we hesitate to again take home a ball of fluff that will one day die? Not for a minute. To us, the friendship that develops is more than worth it.
Our anxiety about what was to be done with Chekov's body in our absence was quelled when we were told that our house cleaner, next door friend, and the gardener all contributed to giving him a proper burial. He was first gently washed, then wrapped in a sheet, and laid in a grave in the front yard, the spot marked with planted flowers. How touching it was to learn that they knew how much he meant to us, and that they helped him exit this world in dignity and with a tenderness appropriate for the love we had for him.