Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I started taking Coffee dog to work out of necessity. As I have recounted previously, spoils go to the victor, so I got him out of a divorce. He was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of dog; he was the perfect combination of neurotic, attentive, and independent. He was smart and personable and determined and did I mention neurotic? He was in almost every way everything I am not and in the rest of the way, he was my doppelgänger. 

It was because of all of this, and because of him that I bought this place out in the country, and because I had recently divorced and was totally and completely escaping by immersing myself in work, that I began taking him to the office with me. With the commute, I was spending easily 12 hours a day away from home. He was not a dog who could be alone for that amount of time. I was occasionally asked if he was my service or emotional support dog; my pithy response was that actually, I was his support human. 

Coffee made lots of friends at the office. Across time, I had staff actually ask as part of their evaluation process that he continue to come to the office even after the long work days were no longer justifiable and bringing him along made less sense. 

One spring, I traveled out of state for work. I left Coffee at a local kennel/Vet clinic. The first night, he completely destroyed his cage and his snout in the process. As I was trying to problem solve the situation from half a continent away, one of my employees, a former vet tech, Cathy, volunteered to take Coffee home and keep him for the rest of my stay. And so it became the arrangement that when we would travel, even after we had a doggy door, and had engaged house-sitters, Coffee would get a bag packed and go stay with Cathy. We came to refer to her as our surrogate dog-mother. I dare say Cathy loved Coffee as much as I did. 

We unexpectedly lost Cathy last week. I cannot even begin to quantify the loss, or describe the vaccum her absence has left in my world. I was talking to a mutual friend about Cathy this past week, and I described her as the perfect combination of competency and compassion. That description just begins to scratch the surface. She was serious with a dry sense of humor; her office was a carefully devised organized chaos; she liked sports but despised cult of personality; she devoured true crime novels, over-indulged the myriad pets we paraded before her, was extremely set in her ways, loved babies, and dutifully read the daily paper. Like Coffee and I, we were the unlikeliest of pairs; she was in almost every way everything I am not, and in the rest of the way, she was my doppelgänger.

She was a committed Catholic. I am not inclined toward dogma or metaphysics, although even I have to admit I hope there is a rainbow bridge. If there is, I know Coffee was there to greet her, and I can try to find comfort that he has his surrogate dog mom to wait with until I can get there.

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