It was always going to happen: sooner or later I was going to start writing about death (and my thousandfold fears thereof), thus taking another step towards completing my transition into a less funny, more annoying Woody Allen.
It should come as no surprise to fellow film fans that death has been crossing my mind over the past couple of days seeing as the inimitable actor Ernest Borgnine (of RED and one of my favourite westerns The Wild Bunch) died a couple of days ago at the astonishingly well-preserved age of 95. Upon learning this I didn’t feel particularly sad, as I was certain that he’d led a longer, more rewarding life than most other humans in history; I remembered those movies of his that I’d seen and told myself to catch up with those I hadn’t, and I didn’t really think much more on the matter.
Cut to earlier this evening and I’m stroking the family dog (not a euphemism) and trying to get her to stay put on a towel so she wouldn’t track wet dog smelll over the place after running around the not-entirely-summery garden. She somehow gets away with smelling like she does and constantly attempting to lick every inch of my face at any opportunity she gets because, well, I’m rather fond of her.
(I like dogs because they’re honest. They’re dumb, but honest. And loyal. It’s never hard to figure out what a mutt’s thinking because they don’t really think, they just do and react to the fallout of whatever destruction they wreak. They can get away with it because they love you no matter what [see Doug from Up] and really don’t ask for much except for food, shelter, someone to pick up their hot poop and an eminently lickable face.)
(Conversely, cats are the most dishonest, manipulative creatures on the planet – besides us – and thus are met solely with contempt when I encounter them.)
Anyway: when I realised that I actually quite like this creature I became instantly depressed because I knew she’d die at some point in the future and on that day (and the days after) I would be incredibly upset. Our last family dog, one we’d had since I was but a wee bairn, died at a rather respectable age about three years ago, but the trauma of losing someone that he’d been a part of my family for as long as I could remember isn’t something I like to revisit, and I really don’t want to feel the same attachment to this relatively new dog because I’m really not a fan of feeling like shit whenever I think about some animal that only really liked me because I fed them bits of chicken under the dining table at Christmas.
Of course, what may also have been present in my subconscious was the fact that I was at an uncle’s funeral only a month or two ago and I’m getting to that age where close family members start to develop worrisome ongoing difficulties. But that probably wasn’t a big part of it.
To my mind, it would be easier to simply go through life, encountering other people’s pets and giving them the affection you’d lavish on your own, with the added bonus of not having to deal with the emotional fallout that comes with them dying.
I suppose the same could be said of relationships, which can hurt for a heck of a long time when they end, and thus the argument to both problems is that the good times you experience with a lover and a pet (not at the same time, mind, unless you’ve got consent from both parties) far outweigh the pain you feel (and clearly the level of pain shows how much you cared for them). Then again, I think I’m okay with going through with a bit more romantic pain because I think I need it. I’m not so sure how much I need a list of dead dogs on my conscience.
Of course, were it the other way round and I was a dying pet, I would want to have been so fucking beloved that my masters would want to jump in that little grave with me and cross over to the doggie netherworld.
Actually, that probably makes me kind of a cat, huh?