This weekend was the first hot one of the year. Like most homes in the Pacific Northwest, ours does not have central air conditioning. We do, however, have a portable unit.
All thanks to Danes. Old Danes, to be exact.
In 2006 my husband lovingly purchased an in-window air conditioning unit for our first Dane, Vaughn. Like many elders, Vaughn struggled to maintain a comfortable body temperature as he aged, and being enormous with black hair didn’t help. The unit went into our bedroom, which is where Vaughn liked to stay while we were away at work.
That was his last summer. On days he felt up to it, he would greet me at the door when I came home. On rough days he would remaining in the bedroom with Angus and Conan came out to see me. I could hear his tail thumping against the bed in joyful anticipation. He was as comfortable as he could be,
He enjoyed lying outside on his bed, in the shade, for short periods. I'd freeze yogurt and berries in popsicle molds and offer him one in a bowl for him to slurp. When walking for any distance beyond the driveway felt too strenuous, we walked the driveway. Then we went inside to enjoy the AC.
It's funny how things like this come back to me after so many years dormant. Vaughn died in 2007. It's been a long time since I felt the rawness of my grief for him. I've built a bigger life because of what he taught me and encouraged me to do, and in those ways he's with me every day.
The air conditioner, though. That's his. That's always going to be his. There is a pause each season as we roll it out and get it ready. That reverence feels right and appropriate.
I never thought climate control would prompt me to honor him. Isn't it funny how these things come together?
I'm Shannon, and I love and am loved by four Great Danes, four cats, and one horse (four Danes, one cat, and one horse are no longer walking this earth). Here I'll share stories of my adventures in grief photography for companion animals, my own grief journey, and thoughts on caregiving.