21 November 2010
Tonight is Loy Krathong night. People in Thailand are celebrating, floating lanterns in the water to wash away their bad luck, while wishing for happiness and fortune.
But it’s one incredibly sad night for me. I just lost my dog this afternoon. His name was Benjamin, a Chihuahua. This is Benjamin just a few hours before the unexpected end came.
Benjamin on his final day
He was just trying to catch bugs underneath the window behind me, until I asked him to sit and took this picture.
Since 4pm when I was given his lifeless body I haven’t stop crying. I just don’t know how to make my tears stop running. Benjamin was bitten by a neighbor’s dogs because he got out through the back gate, which he had never done before – he rarely went through the tall grasses. But he did today. I am not mad at the dogs that killed him because that’s what dogs sometimes do. They are territorial. And Benjamin invaded their territory. It didn’t matter that he was small. He invaded their territory. Ben didn’t know he was small. A mere 3-kg Chihuahua who thought he was a big dog.
Our family just moved to live in the country part-time. We thought the dogs would be happy with so much space to roam, 5 rais or about 2 acres. They do. I think even Benjamin did since they have been all so lively here. But Benjamin was more than the others a city and inside dog. I can’t help thinking I could have kept him inside. Only if. He was no match for big rural dogs who wouldn’t tolerate his barking like the pack in our family. But City or country life, inside or out, it doesn’t matter any more for Benjamin is dead.
Last time I cried like this was then I lost my dad when I was still a young teenager. How long will I grieve over Benjamin’s death? Only time will tell. I dreamt about my dad for five consecutive years, every single night. All beautiful dreams. Happy and loving dreams that gave me the unbelievable feelings of warmth and closeness with my dad, that he was always with me as his young handsome self and I was a little girl. Then finally I just stopped dreaming of him. I believed he moved on to his next life, or a quiet solitude in some form of existence. Will I be so lucky again to have warm and loving dreams about little Benjamin and the final completely reconciled farewell with him thereafter? I am not expecting too much, since I’m older now and have probably lost a child’s self-protective mechanism against profound grief.
If wishes could come true I will wish with all the Krathongs it would require to return Benjamin to me. I want him barking and dancing and snuggling with me again. But he won’t. He’s now lying in the ground. I dug a hole and put him there myself because there was no one else around today. My husband was in Bangkok and all he could do was listening to me sobbing and comforting me on the phone.
Benjamin’s was a beautiful life. A dog’s life well lived. In fact a very privileged dog’s life. He had the best of everything and more love and care than he knew what to do with. But this doesn’t help me feel less sad. He was very happy while he lived – so I’ll try to remind myself when I fall into sadness because, perhaps selfishly, I feel Ben’s life was too short. Far too short to help me reconcile with his sudden passing. He lived a total of 2 years, 7 months and 6 days. I took for granted that he would live to be at least 15. So another lesson of impermanence and uncertainty in life. He was the baby of the pack but the baby was outlived by the 14-year-old. Never take anything for granted is another thing I’ll remind myself. I will worry later about how to tell my mother and the housekeeper and her husband, especially my mother. Benjamin was her closest companion for most of his life until 2 months ago when she went to stay with relatives.
Farewell My Little Benjamin. Rest In Peace, My Baby.
ลาก่อน เจ้าตัวเล็กเบนจามิน ไปสู่สุคตินะลูกรัก
(15 April 2008 – 21 November 2010)
ชาตะ ๑๕ เมษายน ๒๕๕๑ – มรณะ ๒๑ พฤศจิกายน ๒๕๕๓
There are many memories of Benjamin that will stay with me and my family. I hope when my mother knows, I can use these pictures as a reminder of what a beautiful and happy life he had even if it was too short. I will come back to write Thai captions later so that my mother can understand them.
Benjamin loved to sleep on my chest and snuggled in the crook of my neck when he was tiny puppy. It was sometimes hot and itchy but it also felt so good so I endured. When I let him, he loved to go under the bed cover and snuggled against me and slept through the night.
When he was little Benjamin loved to be inside what we called his “condo”, where he liked to sleep – on the bottom shelf of a bookcase. I just woke him up by the clicking sound of my phone camera in this fuzzy picture.
He didn’t really like wearing clothes, but I insisted when it was a little “chilly”. I think he looked particularly handsome here. He was about one year old then.
Benjamin was crazy about Shelby, whose size was I presume something he could relate to. Shelby is my next youngest, now 6 years old and weighs 9 kg.
He was always begging Shelby to play with him. Shelby indulged him – sometimes. Considering he’s a Jack Russell, Shelby took Benjamin’s playful badgering in good spirit and incredible patience.
Some other times, he liked to be underneath my desk, near my foot stool.
Benjamin liked to be ridden on a bike. My mother started that favorite activity, but we didn’t get to do much of it.
After an enjoyable bike ride, Benjamin could fall asleep right there in the basket.
Benjamin’s life wasn’t all play and leisure, he also had a job. To keep my mother’s company. And what a great job he did! Oh, how am I going to tell my mother!
That’s one of Benjamin’s less dignified habits. His interest in Shelby was bordering on excessive. When he tried to kiss me, I always said “Ew, I know where your mouth has been!”
Benjamin loved doing everything with Shelby. After I buried Benjamin this evening, Shelby searched for Benjamin’s scent. Shelby seemed upset too. He came to sit for me and licked my tears. But by tomorrow Shelby might already forget about his little “brother”. How lucky of him.
Benjamin loved cave-like places. If I couldn’t see him, this would be the kind of place I looked for him – some small crack or little tent of space somewhere in the house.
Benjamin loved to be held. (Of course, who wouldn’t, huh?) But I like to think he felt his mom holding him was special.
An ordinary day. 21st of November 2010. 2 years, 7 months and 6 days after his birth, it came to an end. Too soon for mommy and the family.
I was the one who brought him home as a two-month-old puppy over two years ago. We were also alone in his entry to his permanent resting place. He now rests inside his puppy’s bed with his toy ball he liked to chase as a puppy. The flowers were from the garden hiding his wounds. He did look like he was asleep.
Thank you for coming into my life and gave me so much happiness. I will always love you and remember you.
That’s all I could manage. The plant plot marks your grave. And I know that you’ll always be nearby, and I can look out and see, and know that you rest there – in nature, in my heart.
Farewell, My Little Benjamin.
Post script: During the few hours I was writing this tribute to Benjamin, I cried more and then less, and less. I hope I will be able to go to sleep tonight. My husband begged me to go to sleep, but at least I am not sobbing anymore. I have been writing with the company of my remaining three dogs who are now sleeping soundly around my desk. I’ll feed them in the morning and then leave for Bangkok to join my husband. My housekeeper will return to take care of them.
UPDATE: On 4 December 2010, Benjamin was joined by Marlowe, who outlived him by 14 days.
Marlowe was put to sleep because he was unable to breath normally and no longer able to hold down food and water, among other complications resulted from serious dog attacks he suffered 3 months prior to his passing. Marlowe went to sleep on my lap and my husband holding him till his last breath. Marlowe was buried today near Benjamin – RIP my pups. I will post a memorial for Marlowe a bit later.