Tag Archives: Grief

Without Penny – Day 2

I broke down again after making dinner last night. It’s not like I hadn’t already. Multiple times. Annie did me in several times over. ‘Sandy’ and the lyrics, ‘And he really comes in handy. ‘Specially when you’re all alone in the night, And you’re small and terribly frightened it’s Sandy, Sandy who’ll always be there!’ is not what I needed to hear.

It was nothing complicated, just a can of soup. Everyone said I had to eat something because I hadn’t all day. I was heating it up and then the tears came. And they didn’t stop.

I couldn’t remember the last time I ate dinner, or any meal, at home without Penny at my side. She was always there, waiting to the left of the chair I always sat at, looking up, waiting for something to fall from the sky. Never begging or pawing at me. Just waiting. Even if I sat in a different chair she would wait in the exact same spot until I called her over or she realised I wasn’t going to sit there. She expected me to be a creature of habit because I was.

Now, heating this can of soup, my body gave out its cry as I realised I had lost that too. My constant companion. I would be alone. I looked at the bread and thought, if she was here I’d probably prepare a slice or two because I always had to make sure there was some part of my meal that I could share. No bread tonight. Who would eat my crusts?

Last night I went to bed just before midnight. My body ready to collapse from exhaustion. Usual routine. Wash face. Brush teeth. “Come on Penny, bedtime.” She would wake herself up fully because she always fell asleep, yet was always aware of when it was nearing my bedtime. She’d shake herself, stretch out, hop off the sofa. If the bedroom door was slightly ajar she could push it open. If not I would. Then she would enter first, heralding my presence. She would take her spot. I mine. A few chest rubs and a goodnight.

In the morning when she would get up to go out she’d usually step across me. Her belly would rub against the back of my legs with its soft fur. No more.

That didn’t quite set off the waterworks. I’d like to think because it’s getting better, or perhaps I’ve run my stocks dry. I know neither of these things is true.

I couldn’t bring myself to make tea, because that is part of the breakfast routine that she was part of. She would sit on the floor just outside the kitchen door because the floor in there was too cold. Waiting whilst the kettle boiled and I did my stretches. Deciding what to make for breakfast. Toast. Penny can eat the crusts. Today, no. Today I ate a banana. Drank some water.

Cordi went for a run around Hyde Park. Ran three miles, walked the other two. That was the only park Penny liked, through Kensington Gardens. If you took her there in the stroller that is, not if you made her walk. That set me off.

Did I give her too many treats? If I hadn’t shared so many of my meals with her would she have been able to run? Would that have made her a fitter dog and stopped the heart murmur developing? No. I’m assured. She had bad hips, she was never good with running or walking for long distances. That f-ing dog breeder probably fractured her hip and it never healed properly before she was rescued. Once again the life she had been born into finally deciding how it would play out.

I couldn’t put the shirt I wore as I held her for the last time in the laundry. It was one of the t-shirts I got during the first trip when I met her. I was always worried that she’d had an accident as she lay on the back of the sofa behind me and that there was something on my shirt or that I was covered in “chihuahua glitter.” I would do laundry every other hour if it meant I could feel her sat behind me right now.

I tried to take Cordi to the seaside but she was too anxious in the car. She didn’t stop shaking so I had to come home again. I couldn’t tell if she was scared because of the car, or because Penny wasn’t there, or if it was new surroundings, or if she thought I was taking her away and not bringing her home again. Penny liked the car, at least she used to. But we never went on trips. I never took her to the beach. She wouldn’t have known what to do at the ocean and it would’ve been too cold, but I should have taken her.

I need to eat. I feel myself getting weaker. But what can I eat? Fish and Chips? Penny would’ve wanted some chips. Every time chips are suggested I cry. Egg fried rice? Onions, dogs can’t eat onions. Leftovers? That was the last dinner I shared with Penny. I can’t.

I made eggs. She would’ve shared those with me. As I waited for them to boil I looked down to my right. No Penny face staring up at me silently asking if it was ready yet. Was there anything I could give her to tide her over in the meantime? I’d never stood in this kitchen for this long without her at least trying to join me. If there was oil that might splash a quick, “This isn’t your room Penny” and she’d know to leave. But she’d only get as far as the doorway. That was the safe line. At the sink I turned because I thought I heard her nails on the tile. The little taps I knew would come. I was wrong.

Cordi shared my eggs with me. Some day I’ll eat again without getting teary. Maybe.

I deleted a game app off my phone. I was too busy playing on it during those last days. Too busy trying to win a jackpot that would materialise into nothing. My focus divided. I should’ve spent more time with Penny. I should have been paying more attention then just sat here preoccupied on the sofa as her breathing laboured.

I watch Cordi now as she sleeps. Her body tucked in close to mine. I wonder if this is how she used to spend her days with Penny. Both asleep, waiting for us to come home. She sleeps too soundly. With Penny I would check to make sure she was still breathing, it was a joke. As soon as I’d hover over her she’d know and her eyes would open. Cordi not so. I touch her. No movement. I gently shake her. Nothing. Momentary panic I lift her up. She’s fine. I got scared. I miss Penny’s breathing. The rise and fall of her chest. Her legs poking into my back as she made herself comfortable.

Today was the first time I had to take the pups…pup…singular for their evening bathroom break. Three legs. Not seven. We would say Penny had three and a spare to help Cordi know she only needs the three. I took her down to the usual spot. She peed where they always do. Just by the first tree. Penny would always go on the tree, Cordi would give her space. Then Penny would choose where to go. Sometimes by the large plant pot. For the first poop. Then she’d move on, sometimes under the overhang. Sometimes she’d venture even further to near the community theatre. These last few days, she didn’t go much further from the first tree, and there would only be one poop deposit.

I didn’t know how long to wait. The timing was always determined by when Penny was done, she was the one who had a lot to do. Cordi is quick, and doesn’t always poop. Pee once. Is that enough? Is there more? I don’t know if I have to wait Cordi. I don’t know if you’re walking around because you have more to do or if you’ve picked up Penny’s scent or if you’re looking for it. I don’t know how to do this without her.

Cordi ate the other half of her breakfast for dinner as soon as we got back upstairs. No question. I didn’t even need to ask. This never happens. Penny always wolfed down her food first. Then Cordi would wait and wait, sometimes not eating it at all until much later. It was the kind of crappy thing a younger sibling would do knowing that their older sibling wanted nothing more than to eat it. I would make Penny wait on the floor before allowing her back up on the sofa incase she ate Cordi’s food when my back was turned, because Cordi wouldn’t make a sound if she did. Eventually I would give up and put the food up and then let Penny back up to assume her spot on the sofa. I don’t have to worry about that anymore I suppose. I’m glad she’s eating.

I worry that she’s sleeping too much. It’s one of the signs of depression. It’s what often happens when dogs lose their owners. I can’t, not Cordi too. I can’t remember what it is they used to do. I would come home. Put my bag down. Tell them it was time to go out. Cordi would race down the hallway and Penny would follow. Cordi would get in the way as I tried to hook Penny up to the lead. When we got downstairs Cordi would try to shoot off and I’d have to hold her back so she didn’t drag Penny. Then we’d come back up. I notice Cordi is hesitant now as she steps out of the elevator. It’s like she’s scared her leg will go down the gap. She didn’t have to worry before. Penny was her anchor.

All Cordi seems to do is sleep. And I cannot remember what they did before after they ate. Penny would sit on the back of the sofa, moving from one side to the other. She’d lie on her back. On her front. Sometimes watch TV. Cordi would sit next to me. On me. Wedge herself between me and the sofa. I can’t remember what’s normal. Penny not here isn’t normal.

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My Penny

This is Penny. Within a few days of meeting her she had already peed on my stuff. It would not be the last time, and it would not just be my stuff. On more than one occasion it was me.

We joke that Cordi is my puppy because she looks like me – black hair and tan. Penny though, she has my temperament. We like to be left alone. I knew she and I had reached an understanding because she would always make sure her butt was against me because she trusted me.

Here are a few facts about Penny:

She was a rescue from a dog breeder who had tried to breed her too early. I think this has a lot to do with her mistrust of others and also her attitude.

When she was adopted her name was Maggie but it had to be changed because that name was already taken.

She is scared of dinosaurs. I learnt this when we watched Jurassic Park and I saw absolute fear in her eyes.

Her nose is crooked.

She can talk. I have video. She’s very adept at telling you, “No!”

She is our Florence Nighting-puppy. If you ever got a cut of scratch she would lick it to make sure it was clean and would often inspect your legs just to make sure everything was okay. She takes care of us.

She has a Curious George monkey, he’s her boyfriend. But the only time I’ve ever seen her act like a dog and actually chase a toy was when we threw this little yellow duck that squeaked.

Even though she is technically a Jewish American with Mexican ancestry, she quickly adapted to life as a British-Filipino Catholic and loves pork and could eat rice with every meal. She’s also incredibly adept at guilting you into sharing your food. Catholic guilt is real.

She hates putting her hoodie on because she knows it means a long walk was in store, but she looks like the baddest dog on the block when she did. The real B.I.C.

Her collar is sky blue.

She is a terrible guard dog but she’s a great alarm. She makes a lot of noise when the doorbell rings but that’s about it. And you have to thank her for letting you know someone is there.

I taught her to give high fives in exchange for chest rubs. This does not mean she did tricks. She would tap her paw on my hand to tell me I wasn’t finished.

She loves massages. If she had her way this would be my only job.

In the mornings when I wait for my tea to brew she sits up waiting to see what I’m making for breakfast and whether it’s something she can have. I feel guilty when it’s only cereal because I know she wants no part of that. She prefers pastries, particularly croissants.

When she poops she has to do it in at least two places, usually three.

She is not a morning person. She only tolerates them because they involve food.

Baths are definitely not her favourite thing. However, she doesn’t seem to mind having her fur blowdried.

Her favourite place is on the back of the sofa where she can lie on her back, front, side, any way at all, watching the TV – particularly food shows.

She does a creepy winky thing when she’s half asleep and you wake her up and her tongue’s hanging out the side of her mouth.

She has the softest fur, especially on the top of her head. I kept trying to make it into a mohawk but it wouldn’t stay.

She hates hugs.

When I come home and open the door she’s sat on the bed and she tilts her head so she can see who it is. She doesn’t come down until I call her.

You could put her dinner down and it’d be gone in 60 seconds. Less.

She likes to sleep in front of the fan. Never under blankets, even when it’s cold. Other times I’d wake up and her back would be against mine.

She snores. Loudly.

We call her our ‘Chicken Chimichanga’ because sometimes she looks like a chicken. Cordi is our ‘Black Bean Burrito.’

I’m convinced she’s learning to cook because she pays avid attention whenever I’m cooking or baking. In another life she would have been a chef.

People always say that she needs to lose weight without realising how much she has already slimmed down. Sometimes we are the shape we are. Penny and I are okay with that.

She stays up late with me, even if her version of staying up was passing out on the sofa. She wouldn’t leave until I said it was time for bed and then she’d hope down from the sofa, and open the bedroom door heralding my entrance. She is the Silver Surfer to my Galactus.

I don’t know when it was I started to love her, but I do.

She is my last goodnight.

She is my constant shadow.

She is my pup.

I want to imagine her in a field somewhere that she could run and chase birds, because she ran after the occasional pigeon. Or maybe on the beach, by the ocean. But I know she would have hated both of those things. So I imagine her where she was happiest, riding on the back of a bus when the doors used to be open, as her favourite conductor petted her. On her way to Starbucks to get a croissant. Or maybe just lying on the back of the sofa, not a care in the world, as we enjoyed one of our lazy Sundays.

She would have been 12yrs old on June 21st.

She died last night at around 1am. We held her and wished it could have been more easy on her, knowing she deserved a better life than the one she had been given, that she tried to make the most out of.

My heart is broken. I don’t know how someone so small could leave a hole so big.

Penny Jacob
Penito. My Penny. The best dog.
(June 21st 2006 – 2 May 2018)

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