Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Long Goodbye

The girl dog turns 15 in a couple of months, although the county animal control center thinks it’s 16. Either way, a lot of years to pass under the paws of a mostly black shepherd mix.

Her daily schedule has contracted to something like (1) sleep (2) bark (3) maybe make it to the back door in time (4) look contrite when she doesn’t (5) sleep. She still slides her arthritic joints down to the floor by the window, where she remains vigilant through cloudy eyes against the constant threat of cats, UPS trucks, and pedestrians who have the temerity to walk on the sidewalk past our house.

She’s happy as a clam.

She also has approximately the same visual and auditory acuity as a clam, and only slightly more complex brain activity. But she’s happy. You will have to start weighing quality of life, the vet told me yesterday, and at some point you’ll have to decide where the line is. Indeed. At this point the only quality of life issues are my own, as her transformation into the Wee Hours Adventure Dog (2 a.m.? let’s sprint to the door! oops!) has reverted my sleeping patterns to what they were when I had a newborn (2 a.m.? again? jesus.) and made me consider the potential upside of buying stock in Swiffer, since I’m single-handedly keeping them in business anyway (wet wipes on a stick? thank. you. jesus.).

I grit my teeth and hand over the credit card to buy meds that will keep her hips from aching and let her go for longer walks and maybe have more extended play sessions with the other dog in the house. She struggles to get up sometimes, her shaky back legs not quite cooperating with the rest of her. But then she steals unguarded slips of paper from the coffee tablereceipts? goodness, how deliciousand rushes the fence to annoy the chihuahua next door. She hops up and down at dinnertime and sprints down the hall in her half-sideways gait and wags her tail with the big goofy doggy grin that we know isn’t really a smile but know really is at the same time.

Not time to head out the door for the last time yet, although it’s getting closer. We still have a few minutes to spend.

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