I don’t want to go on about Rigby too much, but I feel the need to record some of what I feel and think.
There’s a range of emotions you experience, which blend into memory and ultimately the kind of knowledge you don’t worry at otherwise, when things are good and there’s no need for it.
The thing about dogs is that when they give themselves to you they do do completely with a kind of faithful innocence. It’s one of their most endearing and instructive traits. They invest in you fully, flaws and all. You become their world and main purpose for being. You are their sun.
I know that I’ve not been as loved as well as what Rigby loved me. I would look up and he’d be gazing at me with a kind of settled rapture. It’s one of the things I’ll miss most, how he would look at me – as if I had all the answers.
It might sound a bit silly, but he knew me better than anyone else. Dogs are so observant. They pick up cues quickly. They read your gestures and your eyes and they know your habits as intimately as any partner. It’s part of the joy, really. It’s fun to be so well synchronised and heartwarming to be so well known.
Rigby, for example, would know that if I reached for my glasses while lying in bed that I was about to get up. He would leap from the bed ahead of me and turn, waiting. Or, having a coffee, he would keenly watch until I took the last mouthful, when he would ready himself to lick out the milky remnants, as per ritual. Occasionally he would give me a nudge as if to hurry me up.
Then there is the shared experience. I live alone, but whatever I experienced Rigby did also. It seems a small thing and not something I was conscious of until now. You react to something and you turn to see how Rigby has reacted – how often our eyes would meet as if in common purpose.
This will sound a little pathetic, but in the days since he’s gone I’ve indulged in activities as if he were still here. Consciously indulged. Sitting down, I’ll reach down idly with one hand as if he was there sitting beside me still, as if I could caress him, as I would before. I call him sometimes. Sometimes I teach out a hand as if to invite him to come to me – as he would before, tail wagging, a happy smile on his face.
I’ve packed away his things. I couldn’t bear to see them sit there unused. In the next day or two, I’ll pick up his ashes. I’m surprised how much that means to me. I never understood before, but now I want him back with me.