7 years ago, a dog was born that changed my life. All dogs do, one way or another, but not always this much. I wrote about this before, but I keep coming back to it. Breeze came into my life as I had begun taking anti-depressants in the wake of Ringo’s illness and started to become more able to do things with my life. That meant that the 6.5 years we shared were some of the most fulfilling of my life. We travelled to shows all over Sweden (and a few in Norway) with him and I became friends with some wonderful people thanks to him. At the same time, The World of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones gave us the opportunity to travel abroad more than I had ever done before. That was not because of Breeze, but in my mind he became deeply associated with this very happy time in my life.
6 years ago today, Ringo passed away. It feels like a lifetime ago and in many ways it is because together Ringo and Breeze changed my life almost completely. And now they are both gone, which my brain on some level still refuses to take in.
We learned of Ringo’s cancer towards the end of 2013. That, together with my mother’s advancing illness, sent my stress and depression spiralling out of control. I went to a doctor for the first time in many years, thinking that my blood pressure was through the roof and/or that I was about to have a heart attack the way my heart was racing. It was “just” a panic attack and severe anxiety, but it did convince me to start taking anti-depressants, which I had resisted for…well, decades.
I didn’t know it then, but it was the beginning of a very different phase of my life. In 2014, our book was published and we welcomed home Breeze, and both these events would have far-reaching consequences. The book through its amazing success and the many interviews, trips abroad and other wild experiences that it led to. And Breeze…well, without Breeze I would not have made so many new friends or become so involved in the Boxer Club through dog shows, training for working dog trials and just living a life with a boxer at the heart of it. We may have had dogs since I was quite young, but my life had never be so completely arranged around a dog as it became with Breeze.
Almost two and a half months now since the beginning of the year and Breeze’s passing. I can think about him without that horribly sharp pang of pain, but often I flash back to that first seizure on our walk. The cold sweat that immediately gripped me as my brain assumed the worst. It always does, but this time it was right. Just like it was right when Ringo started limping for no obvious reason. Of course, I have no doubt been wrong several times as well. But with Breeze…its odd, I don’t know if it was because of the surgeries for his knees and the cancer scare last autumn (that one turned out to be nothing, though), but for the last year or two I felt this almost painfully strong attachment to him. I’d often hug him in that way you do when you’re scared of losing something, as if you could hold on by hugging. I’d also feel scared that I was too happy, that things were too perfect now that I had Elio, two wonderful dogs and a horse. I am sure everyone gets these feelings, but I often get stuck in them. Well, that’s depression and incurable pessimism for you, when you feel good you are always waiting for something to go wrong.
It has been a while since I wrote anything here. Over 3.5 years, in fact. I’ve posted plenty to Otherworldly, but nothing about dogs, horses, books, mu*ing or life in general. For some of it, I’ve used Facebook instead. For the rest, I’ve had the occasional urge to post but found myself frustrated by the need to redesign and restructure the site. The site just ended up being an awkward reminder of the fact that I wasn’t able to muster the energy to work on it properly. I keep having things get only partially finished because of my depression and then I get even more depressed because I have half-finished things lying around.
But sometimes things happen that make me care less about my little obsessions and hang-ups. On January 1st this year, our beloved Breeze passed away at only 6.5 years of age. Out of the blue he started suffering seizures on the 31st of December and the next day we learned that he had a large brain tumour and that nothing could be done for him.
My heart is still in pieces and I miss his beautiful face and his large, comforting presence every moment of every day. He was not an easy dog but he was a wonderful dog.