Categories
Comics

Laika is meditative and heartbreaking

Nick Abadzis‘ and Hilary Sycamore‘s Laika (paid link) is meditative, thorough, and heartbreaking.

Everything I knew about Laika — the first orbital space traveler, a stray dog trained and conditioned for her one-way mission — before reading this book came from her Wikipedia entry and small exhibits about her at aerospace museums. I now know a lot more about her, and how extraordinary she was.

Laika is as good as two of my other favorite biographical comics, Box Brown‘s Andre the Giant: Life and Legend (paid link) and Derf Backderf‘s My Friend Dahmer (paid link). Both are sad reads (and the latter is challenging in other ways, too), and both enriched my knowledge of their subjects.

Where Laika takes liberties — fully disclosed at the outset — they ring true to me. Dogs have an inner life; they think and feel, love and fear; they’re sentient beings. Considering what Laika’s inner life was like, which is beautifully expressed in the comic, is one of the things about the book that resonates most with me — and has continued to resonate months after I finished it.

Reaing Laika made me glad my first dog, Charlie, died in my arms, surrounded by people who loved him, and it makes me want to go home and pet Wicket.

Categories
Life

Charlie the hound

Our dog Charlie died today at age 17. My wife got him as a puppy, I entered the picture when he was 9, and our daughter has known him for 4 years.

He fell asleep in my wife’s arms while I was on the way home, and she passed him to me to hold when I got back to the house. He died in my arms with his family around him, and he was hugged and loved right up until we buried him.

I stayed up with him all night last night; he was miserable. I wanted my wife to get enough rest to make the hard decision we expected to make today. This is the first time I’ve known that a pet’s death could be a mercy, the first time any of us have been present for the death of a pet larger than a hamster, a member of the family, the first time we’ve dug a grave (I suspect I did a poor job, but I thought I’d have more time). I’m proud of my wife and daughter.

My thoughts are pretty jumbled. I keep coming back to this being a strange day of firsts, to my daughter’s full-throated grief (no one does grief like a preschooler, I now know), and to how glad I am that Charlie went the way he did. He was a fantastic dog, weird and neurotic, afraid of sneezes and vacuum cleaners and thunder, but above all a good dog.

The picture below is from 2007, though Charlie looked much the same — a bit more haggard, a lot greyer — up until this past Sunday.

In the minutes before he died, Charlie was asleep and clearly dreaming: His back legs were twitching, which for him always means a running dream. He had a good run, and he got to go out warm, loved, enveloped by his family, and chasing squirrels in his dreams.

I’m not entirely sure why I wanted to share this here, but here I am nonetheless. (This was originally a post on Google+, with this coda: If you’re not sure what to do with this post, share a story of a beloved pet, a meditation on death and family, or a plus-one for a dog who died well.)

Categories
Life

A whole hamburger!?

My dog Charlie’s thought process when I gave him a whole hamburger on the way back from the vet:

There’s a hamburger right there! I’m going to grab it!

I GOT IT!

Ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod there’s an ENTIRE HAMBURGER in my mouth!

Wow that doesn’t fit at all!

Quick eat the rest before the fat guy realizes he made a mistake!

Okay it’s gone where’s the next hamburger?