August 30th, 1998 - July 27th, 2011
Last May I wrote this.
In human terms, my dog SkyeBoy is 104 years old. He is standing only for about 15 minutes during any 24 hour period. This counting matters, as I measure him daily. Does he still want to be here? Is he having more good days than bad? It's hard for him to walk and he often falls down on his way to wherever he is trying to go. The snow is especially hard for him and he gets stuck there, but he patiently waits for me to come and free his legs and help him back inside.
He knows, by heart, that I will always come and find him - he is my homing beacon, and I am his. Just two months later, I started measuring the good minutes in mostly bad days. He was losing interest, I could tell. But he wasn't sick. He was simply showing me what aging looks like. Wherever I am at home, there he is sleeping beside me. Now I should write that in the past tense. He dreams, and I watch him - and in his dreams he runs. His legs move quickly, in rhythm, freely in motion, without the pain and stiffness of his waking state. I know where he's running to because we've been there together at some time or other, never apart. I think at night, when we sleep and dream, I think this time is the delicate and fragile edge or our place here on earth.
Scientists believe that the most interesting and new types of knowledge, things that you haven't seen before, are always found in regions which are at the edge of chaos. Places where clarity and confusion, order and disorder, intersect.
In nature, the ecotone plays the same role - this is the area of transition between two adjacent but differing environments - between a forest and a field, for instance, or a river and a wetland - these transitory edges are the most dynamic habitats for both plants and animals, home to a much greater diversity of species.
Between day and night - this is an area of transition for all of us bound here to the earth and its turning. SkyeBoy and I are both dreamers. Every evening, we have one foot out the door, the reality of our waking life fades away and recedes like an outgoing tide, and we free-fall to faraway places on the edge of consciousness, sometimes places of memory that are familiar and close, other times, to strange and unknown territory. I like to think we might bring back some souvenirs from these journeys, they may be tucked away and forgotten, but someday remembered, something to remind of us wonder, and our time here together.
Rest in peace SkyeBoy.