God full of mercy who dwells on high
Grant perfect rest on the wings of Your Divine Presence
In the lofty heights of the holy and pure
who shine as the brightness of the heavens
to the soul of Cid, beloved dog.
There was a Friday when I was still living in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, and drove down for the weekend to stay with Marie, at the time my S.O. and David her son. When I pulled up, David was out front holding this…thing. What, another cat? She already had two and I’d be adding my two in a few weeks, so what was this? It turns out I was meeting Cid, a five-week-old puppy who just wanted to slurp, squirm around, and explore his new world. Marie told me the cats, Macy and Casper, looked at him and each whacked him on the snout to show him who was boss. So they thought…. Cid put up with it because he hadn’t learned his way around yet. Yet. He would.
I lived with Cid as one of his guardians from August 19, 2000 until August 4, 2009, the day he died. Even now I deeply miss him. Three years soften the impact of the loss but cannot eradicate it. Even today he occupies a hallowed space in my memory and in the memory of everyone who loved him: Marie his primary guardian, her son, me, my older son Jake, Marie’s mother, various neighbors. He looked terrifying but was mostly a big mush—a large mutt who combined Rottweiler and German Shepherd in a giving and forgiving personality I can only memorialize but never quite describe. But I’m going to try.
In a few months, Cid grew rapidly from a little puppy to a big one, and went on to turn into a full-sized dog. He learned how to live with the cats, who were first scared of him, but then figured out how to work around him. My favorite was Miles, my little black cat who initially was terrified of the big dog but found his guardian and protector in Pushkin, my first cat, who stood in front of the little cat and snarled at Cid. She was both a girlfriend and older sister who would not let anything happen to her baby brother or boyfriend. Then Miles figured out to work the dog. He found out he could outmaneuver Cid because he was like a Spitfire facing a 4-engine heavy bomber.
Miles would sit in my office and Cid would crowd the door. When the wet food was put out at 9 PM, Miles would do an incredible end run around the dog and race to the food bowl. Cid was left to breathe Miles’ jet trail. It was funny and then it became a game the two of them could play—and they played it every night.
Then Miles died of liver cancer in June 2002. Cid, unaccustomed to death, was confused, and Pushkin, Miles’ cat guardian was enraged and distraught. By good fortune, two weeks later I adopted Tolstoy, who, as I write this is sleeping in the next room. He’s getting to be an old guy now, but at age 13 or 14, he remains a youthfully awesome kitty with the genetic code of his Abyssinian blood—he wants to be into everything I’m doing, and is a hover cat with a thicker body than a purebred Abby, but the face and coloring of his heritage. He got along reasonably with Cid, but when I left New Jersey in 2010, he adjusted to the trip and new apartment. He had food, a litter box, and me. So life was cool.
I’m avoiding talking about Cid again so I have to backtrack. He died of splenic hemangiosarcoma on August 4, 2009 at 5:45 PM at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in Red Bank, New Jersey. They put Marie with me in a private visiting room with the dog because we all—I think Cid too—knew it was the end. Cid that last day could barely walk. He had no appetite, was incontinent on the kitchen floor, he just lay there in the bedroom when I gave him permission to leave us if he had to. I was crying when I talked to him. I cried in RBVH when we took him into the visiting room and let him lay on a warm carpet. And then we both cried when we told Cid how much we loved him, and to go where he had to.
And then the vet came in with his death-drugs, pumped them into Cid, and waited a few seconds. Miraculously, Cid raised his head and kissed Marie goodbye. A big slurpy tongue kiss. He knew, or he suspected, that he wasn’t going to leave the place alive.
And then Cid shuddered once and his heart and breathing stopped. The old guy was gone.
Marie ordered him cremated and stated that she wanted his ashes returned to her. She got the cherrywood box on Friday evening.. All I could do was stare at the box and say “Hi, Cid. Welcome home.”
I find I can’t go on; not because I’m about to break down again as I did a for few days after he died, but because Cid’s life and death said everything that they could say. He was a big, loveable dog, and even though Marie now has a chihuahua named Pablo (named for the Chilean poet Neruda), Cid–who would be 13 by now–sits in my heart as an irreplaceable part of my life, forever beloved and forever a puppy.