"Looking at me with that silly oblivious face, his trust in me complete.. I took him to his grave."
He was sitting on the Vet’s table, that bloody celebrity vet was on that day, I had thought beforehand that I would like to be the one to compress the syringe that would kill him but when I got there I realised there was no way I could even think about doing that, I crouched down in front of him, tears already in my eyes and said a few final things to him, told him I loved him, I felt like a dick too cos the bloody vet could hear me, a celebrity one no less but I told him I loved him again and again and kept cooing “ohhhhhhh Sladey, awwwww Sladey”, at one point I nearly backed out of doing it, I freaked out for a second thinking “what the fuck am I doing!? I’m KILLING fucking Slade!? There must be something else I can do!!”……. but I knew there wasn’t. There’s no cure for cancer, especially not in a dog as ancient as he was.
So I held his paws and looked him directly in his eyes and he just stared back at me with that same stupid old face he always had, anyone could see the love in his eyes, even when he was old and in pain, it was a kind of love that is very difficult to find in a human, a kind of of love that is 100% and unwavering, it was devotion, she pressed the syringe while murmuring gently about spirits and afterlives and all sorts of other nonsense, at first nothing happened and some tiny flicker of hope in me thought maybe it wouldn’t work and we wouldn’t actually have to do this but then reality reared it’s ugly head and I watched the light fade in his eyes, something just disappeared behind them, he took his last breath, slowly slumped sideways and lay still.
As soon as he was dead he began to turn stiff and cold, his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth unnaturally, a strange colour. I held him for a little while and then once I was sure he was dead I gave his big cancer lump a poke, I could never really touch it when he was alive because it was very painful and sensitive for him, I figured he wouldn’t mind now so I gave it a good nudge to see what it felt like, well it was a big bastard and solid as a rock, I hate that bloody tumour.
I walked out of the operating room a dogless man for the first time in my life, only moments before I had had my best friend by my side, I was alone in the world now. Just me.
A lady with a cat looked up from her magazine and saw me and for a brief second I think I saw my pain reflected in her face, the look of absolute, genuine sympathy I saw in her told me exactly how devastated I must have looked, tears streaming down my face freely.
After that I went and sat in my van and cried some more before going to work, I don’t know how I went that day to be honest, I don’t know how I could have managed it, sitting in the fucking TAB studio watching racing all day when my best friend is dead, lying on a cold slab at the vet.
A week or so later a little heavy box arrived for me, not like an ornate, beautiful wooden box, a shitty cardboard box with a plastic bag in it, that was my pal Slade.
I was living in Wellington but I wanted to spread his ashes at St Kilda beach in our old stomping ground South Dunedin so I had to wait until I was next heading down, in the intervening months he lived on top of my computer until my good friend Nic Larsen came to my house real drunk and knocked him over into my keyboard, his face was priceless.
Slade always loved a party though so I’m sure he didn’t mind and we did finally get to St Kilda beach one last time, I had planned to sprinkle a few of his ashes on a sandwich and eat it, unhealthy and weird I know but I figured if I wasn’t going to take his ashes with me physically then I could take some in me instead, like if I used some of his DNA to fuel my body then in a sense he would live on within me but I got to the beach and didn’t have any bread so instead I just dipped my finger in and put a wee touch on my tongue.
I started walking down the beach spreading handfuls of ash as I went, then the wind started blowing him all up my nose in my bloody mouth anyway, I looked like one of those people running away from the World Trade Centre by the time I got to the car.
I miss you Slade you were the best mate I’ll ever have. I love dreaming about you because it reminds me for just one second what it was really like to actually have you by my side. Please stay with me in my dreams, I don’t want you to fade away.
This is the first time of spoken about it since it happened. Three years ago.