I’m trying to have it. Grace, I mean. I’m trying to appreciate the every day joys and not worry about the couldas or shouldas.
So it is loving an old dog.
He’s had bladder cancer since at least last summer. I’ve been driving him 40 minutes each way to the holistic vet, sometimes once a week, sometimes every 2 weeks. They all love him, and he gets very excited when he figures out where we’re going. He lets them pump him full of all kinds of things, and he is never upset or afraid. He is just his loving, happy self.
|“Thank you for choosing to adorn me with a Christmas bow and not a disco elf costume like that of my smaller canine brethren.”|
But I’ve been upset and afraid. I’m doing that for both of us, although he’d never ask me to carry that mantle.
At Christmas, I got a call from our beloved dog sitter. Big Doodle was limping. Like, really, really limping. She offered to take him to the emergency vet. “Oh, we’ll see how he’s doing when we get home tomorrow, don’t worry about it,” I said.
She wasn’t kidding. Our boy wasn’t using his back leg at all. Seemed to have no concept that he even had a back leg. Drug it around like it was an almost-forgotten security blanket.
More vet visits and 10 days of the entire family avoiding all stairs in solidarity, he has some use of his leg. Maybe this is the best it will get. Maybe it will get better. It probably won’t get worse. But we’re starting to really look at his quality of life. We have this privilege and burden.
For his part, Big Doodle is happy, if perhaps a bit bored. He’s not in pain. He’s not sure why we’re not going for walks – I guess he doesn’t see the correlation between “I can’t walk” and “Why aren’t we walking?”
He’s sleeping a lot. Like old dogs do. And he is old, even if he never got the memo. He’s 11 years young, and still as sweet and spazzy as when I met him almost 7 years ago. His dad and I had a blind date, and agreed to walk dogs to get to know each other. Big Doodle was my charge, and it was instant love. The joke is that I married My Guy because I fell in love with his dog. Like most jokes, it’s funny because there’s a kernel of truth to it.
|“I’ve always had a way with the ladies.”|
I know we have done and continue to do everything we can for this sweet dog. But I’m having trouble letting go of the idea of fixing it. After a certain point, there’s nothing to fix. It just is. And we’ve had wonderful bonus time with this fine, fine boy.
But it’s hard.
It’s hard, and I have trouble getting out of bed in the morning. My legs work just fine, yet it’s the guy who’s down a paw who has to convince me to get moving.
I’m trying to embrace the grace, to enjoy these days for what they are. To let go of expectations or desires and to be present. To savor what’s here.
What’s here is a lot of dog pee. And I’m trying to laugh about that. Because maybe I could get a giant squeegee like they use on astroturf. And that would be kind of cool.
But what else is here is a big ol’ dog who is happy to be here, who feels just fine and is glad to see us. There are no greater riches.