Ace was a bit of an idiot. He rarely listened to anything I ever said. Wouldn’t sit, wouldn’t come and him rolling over was as likely as me getting pregnant with a Swahili-speaking invisible pink unicorn.
We got Ace barely a few days after Dixie’s death. We were still mourning. Dixie’s death was very unexpected. But the resemblance was uncanny except for the fact that Ace was younger and a male.
In June 2006, a car parked on the side of the road. A woman came out, opened her door, dumped a dog and left. Were it not for some kind-hearted person, and BETA’s awesomeness, we would have never gotten Ace.
Ace was the only one of the ‘new generation’ dogs who knew Rex, my old dog who lived with us, along with his twin sister Reglise, who had died a few months before, and who himself died a few months after Ace’s arrival (old age both of them).
We had Rex and Reglise since I can remember. Coming back from school was always followed with Hellos by Rex and Reglise.
I still remember carrying Reglise to the car. We had decided to put her down because she suffered so much. Her old age left her almost completely paralyzed. She could barely walk, let alone do her business or play. I also remember my depression starting as I watched the car get lost in the distance. My mom took her, I couldn’t stand it. I was 15.
A few months later, it was Rex’s turn. My childhood best friend. It was his turn.
Rex had it even worse. He slept in my room for the last few days of his life, could barely move. On his very last day, my cousin and I spent the whole day with him, feeding him crap (creepily telling ourselves that eating unhealthy food wouldn’t make much difference now) and giving him more attention than most dogs would receive in a lifetime. When the time finally came, I thought I was prepared, prepared to say goodbye once and for all to the dog, the friend, who grew up with me, side by side. Turned out I wasn’t. I don’t think there is such a thing as being prepared for death.
Rex died. We were left with Ace. A few months later, Queen came. A few months later, Yamcha. Then, Ella. And recently, Flipper and Maki. Yes, 6 dogs. Put it simply, I can’t imagine a place called home without at least one dog in it.
Back to Ace. I was no longer 15 now. But let’s not kid ourselves in thinking that being 17 or 18 makes much of a difference. I was still an introvert, didn’t go out much and spent most of my time reading, writing and learning languages. I even remember spending a whole summer (2007 maybe, or 2008?) rarely leaving the house, spending my time in the garden, reading, listening to audio books, writing. Ace was always there. He slept with me, woke up with me and stared at me annoyingly when it was my time to eat. I tried explaining in my pidgin doggish that I don’t bother him when it’s his time to eat but as I said, stupid.
To be honest, in those days living on a daily basis, without worrying about having responsibilities, gave you a sense of immortality. There were time when I imagined doing what I love until my death. Thing is, doing what I love was more often than not in his presence, even though he rarely could let go of his ball – As I said, stupid.
Ace was an epileptic. First time was hell. We panicked, not knowing what to do, thinking that our loved dog was having some sort of doggy-heart-attack. But with time, medication and patience, we managed to control his episodes. They were at first irregular and numerous, but with time became predictable and rare.
Fast forward to last week. I had just come back from my 16-days adventure in Sri Lanka. One of my post-travel resolutions was that I would spend more time with Ace. He loved running and playing with his god-forsaken ball, and I hadn’t been able to do that recently. I left Ain Saadeh, moved to Hamra, decided to start pretending I was an adult. For the past few months, seeing Ace was reduced to the occasional week-ends, and running with him was even rarer. We didn’t play ball once. I wish I can put in words the regret I feel right now.
I came back from Sri Lanka happy, asked my mom what was the bad news. She didn’t want to tell me. Ace had died a few days ago, brain cancer. She didn’t want me spending my last days in Sri Lanka mourning.
It came as a shock. It came as a shock that was worse than when Dixie, Reglisse or even Rex died. Ace was suffering sometimes due to his epilepsy, but that he had brain cancer never crossed our minds. He was a healthy dog.
I remember the moments spent with him from Day 1. I remember naming him after Luffy’s brother in One Piece – Yamcha was named after the Dragon Ball character (I kind of love Anime) – and I remember annoying the shit out of him until he finally couldn’t take it anymore and started attacking me. I always won. He was a pussy.
I don’t believe in a god, even less in a doggy god. I honestly don’t think that Ace is watching over me somewhere with his newly-found postmortem wisdom. And anyway if there is a Doggy Heaven, he’s probably chasing some holy ball somewhere, annoying someone else.
Ace is gone. I’m sorry I couldn’t spend the last days with him. Had I known, I would have cancelled my travel plans. Sri Lanka could wait, Cancer couldn’t.
I loved that dog with all my heart. And I’ll always miss him.
So go and hug your dog.