Goodbye, Hermione

Hermione, our family dog, will go to sleep tomorrow.

This stubborn, sweet, active dog has a personality that made all of us connect with her – she demands attention and our food, greets us with full body wags, and constantly challenges authority. This tough mutt can be gentle, too, and lets us hold her when we are upset or curls up in that perfect space between the couch and one of our bodies, often my mom, in order to connect and get in some good petting after a long day.  
Hermione was a rescue dog my mom and I found on a website in 2005, and we both knew we had to have her. This was during my senior year of college, so of course I bore none of the responsibilities of caring for a dog, but fully supported my mom’s decision to get one and my dad’s decision not to challenge my mom’s decision. Hermione was named after my sister’s character in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, but got lots of attention later thanks to Harry Potter’s friend. She filled my parents’ empty nest at the time, and they loved her quickly, spoiling her in part because training her was so difficult and in part because they showed her love by slipping her steak or pancakes.

For my sister and me, despite living far away, Hermione became part of what it meant to come home. My mom, a teacher, wakes up early and feeds Hermione and works while Hermione lies nearby. Sleeping at my parents means waking to this sequence of morning sound.

Until very recently, into her old age, Hermione would bound up the sand dunes behind our family cottage on Lake Michigan, her muscles straining, my dad throwing a ball down the dune over and over so she could run up and down the dune until she was completely worn out. This is when she was happiest. I love thinking of her sniffing around the porch deck as we watched the sun set over the lake, Hermione’s nails tapping against the wooden planks, briefly sticking her nose in my lap to say hi.

I appreciated Hermione even more when two years ago we introduced her to Mimi, a brand new infant at the time. She knew Mimi was mine, and as Mimi grew, Hermione tolerated all of the pinches and pulls and tumbles. She was the source of some of the greatest pleasure I’ve seen in my kid, introducing Mimi to the magical sensation of touching a furry, warm creature and having that animal respond. Hermione is why one of Mimi’s first words was “dah” and why she now squeals at the prospect of seeing Hermione. For this, I am so grateful.

Now, though, Hermione’s body has succumbed to cancer and she is thin and weak and has lost her enthusiasm for doing much of anything. She hung on just long enough for us to move to Michigan and for me to take her on walks and spend a few days, one with my sister, working from my parents’ patio while Hermione slept at my feet. I thanked her for being so good to us these last 12 years and she let me hug her and then she made eye contact with me. I’m sure she understood my meaning.

Rest in peace, sweet pup. We’ll miss you.

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