Saturday, July 12, 2014

a short history of Berkatu

We said goodbye to Berklie at 2:15 am on Thursday.
We reached the end of the line after three and half days in the hospital on IV fluids and meds to jump start those tired kidneys.  Tom picked our fur ball up and brought him home.  I cozied up the bedroom and we all piled on the bed, me, Tom, most of the dogs, and Berk.  
We spent nine hours together before he decided he was ready to go.  Tom and I kissed his ears and head, we told him we loved him, we told him it was ok to leave, we told him how lucky he was - he was about to get to see Preacher and Daisy and Clarence and Clishy.  I envied him that.
And quietly he took his last breaths.  It was just how Preacher left us.  It was excruciating and peaceful all at the same time.

I found Berklie 16 years ago under a car in a Schlotzkys parking lot.  He was covered in oil, he was the size of a minute, his ear hair was longer than his tail...seriously, look, the longest hairs nearly run out of this photo!!!
I knew he was ours.  Tom took some convincing.  But I remember us sitting on the bed, me, Tom, Seven, and Berk (that was our whole family back then...well, plus Daisy but she wouldn't imagine gracing us with her presence!)... Seven did something, she licked Berk or maybe she just gave her nod of approval and Tom said ok.  Even way back then Seven called the shots.
I think Berk must've known he owed his home and his new oil-free coat to Seven.  We often found him sitting on the table or counter scooping his food (or any food he could find) out of his bowl with his paw and then pushing it onto the floor for Seven.  He would then gargoyle over the edge and watch her eat it before scooping more food onto the floor.
Less than two weeks ago I found him pushing freshly cut chicken off the cutting board down to Monkey.  I can't count how many nights we were awakened by clanging in the kitchen, a slew of dogs licking the floor, and Berklie sitting innocently on the counter licking his paw with a "What?" look on his face.
When I found Berklie I was working at an outpatient therapy clinic in Georgetown.  I was a physical therapy tech and my job was basically to run through exercises with patients.  My favorite patient at the time, well, of all time, was Roger Smith.  He had had a hip or knee replacement, can't remember...he had been in WWII and each day when he would come into the clinic I would put him on the bike and say "okay Mr. Smith, where are we riding to today?" And he would name some place he had been during the war.  He would tell me all about the culture, the landscape, the food, and his experience there.  He was never negative about his time in the war...I looked forward to him every day.  I learned so much from him about places i'd never even heard of...i cherished my time with him.  In fact I got myself into a bit of trouble by moving him off of other techs schedules and onto mine!  
On his last day of therapy he came in, got on the bike, and handed me an envelope.  He said "we're having a test!"  Inside the envelope were pictures from his time in the war.  Some of him, some of his plane, some of his friends...each photo had little notes on the back, hints for me...the test was that I had to tell him, based on the photo and the hints he'd written on the back (just for me!) where each picture was taken.  I was floored.  I had this tumble of emotion from joy that he cared enough to do this to pride that I felt I'd actually maybe made his time in therapy fun for him.  I was crushed that he was "graduating".

I found Berklie that day.

When Tom and I agreed to keep him (although we thought HE was a SHE for the first three months!) I demanded that we name him after Mr. Smith in some way.  I wanted a way to remember this man who had touched my life in such a profound way.  Now that all of this time has passed I realize that I didn't really need a way to remember him...I couldn't forget him.  But I'm glad we gave Berklie a name with such a heavy meaning.  So since we thought Berk was a girl the name Roger was kind of out.  Smith wasn't doing it for either of us so I started going through all of the places Mr. Smith had shared with me...we got down to two: Mauritius (an island in the Indian Ocean) and Berkatu (some place in Libya). We landed on Berkatu.  aka Berklie, Berk, Bug, LeeLeeBug, Bug-a-boo, Buggie.  

I miss you Bug.  I went to let the dogs out last night and I was wedging myself into the crack in the door so that you couldn't sneak out.  It reminded me of the two times you did get out.  Once when we lived in Hyde Park.  You were gone for almost a day and in the middle of the night your dad sat bolt upright in bed and said "he's back!", ran to the front door and there you were.  The second time was almost the exact same thing - but we were leaving for London the next day and I was scared we were gonna have to cancel our trip..same thing tho, your dad knew the moment you were home and opened the front window and in you came.  You guys had some kind of crazy connection.
I never told you this, but I've decided it's time - you were a cat Berk.  I know you always believed you were a dog, but you were in fact, a cat.  I wish I had gotten a video of you last week, standing in the middle of all the dogs when I was trying to feed Seven, reaching with your paw trying to get the food before it landed in her mouth, oblivious to the pit bull, chow, plethora of snarky chihuahuas trying to swipe the food too!
I will never ever eat another Dorrito without thinking of you.  
I will never be able to watch Iron Chef and hear the chairman say "allez cuisine!" without thinking of you.
You were quite possibly the easiest animal on the face of the earth.  You were self sufficient to a fault.  You spoiled us.
I can't believe I am saying this but I miss your drool.  I miss your rubbing your fangs along my hand or arm or cheek and leaving a puddle of drool in its wake.
I miss knowing that the armoire door will never again swing open seemingly all on its own.

I don't know how you ended up at a sandwich shop in Georgetown, Texas but I will forever be grateful that you did.  Strange as it sounds I owe a debt to whoever was dumb enough to abandon you.  My life was better because you were in it.
I love you LeeLeeBug.  
Give Preacher a big 'ol head butt for me.
See you in awhile...