Love Story – a dream of fur and loss

Herbie is our Oliver Barrett IV – his love means never having to say you’re sorry. Even when you dress him up like a fool.

Sleeping is great. Dreaming is even better. Sometimes, however, you wake from your dreams so rattled and upset it takes a minute to breathe and realise that reality is not the place you’ve just come from, but the place you’re blinking into.

Last night my beloved Herbie died. It was an intense, mad, running around to places everywhere kind of dream. In the midst of it, Herbie was there, and something was wrong.

This is my second mate, looking like he’s about to walk the plank.

He was lying down, and losing consciousness. Someone told me he was dying, and I gave him water from my water bottle which he lapped up, and then stopped breathing. I cried and cried, and continued to cry any time I had to tell people what had happened. Then, for some reason, I started delivering meals to homeless people, cooking chicken kebabs for a wedding (that stubbornly stayed raw), and tried to work in an office (all at the same time). Oh, I also snuck in a bottle of champagne in a cafe in Greece, where That Man and I were trying to dodge whinging kids at all the surrounding tables since we were alone. Totally normal dream behaviour.  Shut up, Freud.

That Man always jokes about Herbie being decrepit or washed up, and mentions his death fairly flippantly. I feel a pang of panic when he does. Why the attachment? It’s his constancy, and unconditional brand of love. I’m not invisible to this dog. While the kids ignore what I’m saying ten times over, until I ponder the kind of dramatic action I’ll be forced to take to be noticed (fake anger – always a good look. RESIST THE BOTOX PEOPLE – or your kids will NEVER respond); this dog? He is watching, waiting, itching for me to speak to him. When That Man is stressed and tired and distracted, unable to hear me calling from another room or asking a fairly simple (but yes, boring) question, this dog has his supersonic hearing attuned to the tones and nuances of my voice, ready to come trotting to my aid if he perceives he could help out. Hell, he’d grow thumbs if he could. He already talks. He even eats cucumber. He’s a special dog.

Deck the dog with festive antlers, fa-la-la-la-la…

When I’m sick, he sits and watches me worriedly, beside my bed, and licks bits of me that protrude beyond the covers. Sweet and gross. As I type this he’s behind my chair, dreaming of rabbits. I can’t watch any movies with dogs in them, since Herbie wants to take them on and is convinced they’re in his living room. He’s huge, and in my way, and barks at the door constantly, and drives me crazy when I trip over him since he’s behind me most of the time, but I would miss his presence like a limb.

So when I woke this morning, tears on my pillow, panic in my chest, the sound of his snuffly snore beside me on the carpet was the most reassuring thing I’ve heard since the sound of my girls sighing in their sleep. Herbie? Can we do a Dolly the Sheep and clone you honey?