Even when you know that there's obviously something wrong - you can't be 14 1/2 doggy years and have lost a quarter of your body weight and have had a possible seizure in the last couple of years and there not be something wrong. But still, you were okay. You were old and slowed down, but you still loved to walk, to go in the car, to play with the ball, to cuddle. Even though a week ago today I was sitting on the couch with you, howling because Helen Razer's cat was put to sleep, and wondering how long it was before it was your turn, I didn't think it would be before the week was out.
I mean,you'd played with the ball that day, right? And the day after that and the day after that. We had an episode this week of ball-playing. And while it wasn't like the ball-playing of your youth, where your exuberance needed abating by a many-times-a-day habit of hitting the ball clear across the yard with a tennis racquet over and over again, you were still able this week to chase it, several times, down the side of a hill, and shriek-bark when you hid it somewhere and then struggled to retrieve it again. You were still able to walk on Monday evening.
But then Thursday came and with it what we know now was another seizure. But still, when I debated whether to go to my class on Friday, looking worriedly at your lowered countenance, I was still guessing that you'd attracted another infection, a secondary one from the licking that goes on when your body comes in contact with the wandering jew. But then Friday night and you still weren't right. You were spacey and vacant. You didn't even want to eat the piece of butter chicken I offered you. Definitely an alarm bell. And so to the vet, and a 24-hour wait on blood tests hoping that it would be something that could be managed.
But it couldn't, she said. Things had caught up with you. You were anaemic to the extent that if a blood transfusion would have given you anything more than a few days, you would have been eligible for it with a couple of marker points to spare. That was why you'd stopped eating, because it was a choice of eating or breathing, and breathing was starting to prove hard enough.
You were a tough old bugger, though. Your body had adapted itself to a situation that the vet guessed had been going on for some time. But then it just couldn't adapt anymore, finally. As will happen for us all. But still, still a shock. Still a big gaping hole where you were.
But I'm sorry about getting pissed off at you. You couldn't help it. You wouldn't do anything voluntarily to upset me, being of a species that is on a higher evolutionary plane than mine.
I watched you on Saturday night and into Sunday morning. You were pacing like you were searching for your lost energy. You were a little confused. But you could be consoled and pacified by a relentless round of patting. You would let me pat your chest for a while, and then turn around and let me scratch your back. On and on, through the night.
I dozed off and on. At one point I woke up and you were right there, right in my face. Looking, searching. You always were a smart doggy. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life. Thank you for that.
When you finally left us at 10.40 on Sunday morning, there were five people crowded into the vet's surgery. That shows what sort of a dog you were. You had a sort of quiet dignity about you, as if you were thinking about things. You were always top dog no matter what group of dogs you were in. The sort of innate authority that would be nice to be seen in our new Prime Minister. You were a dog who changed us. You did. Like your granddaddy said, you were the one who taught us the lessons.
It was easy to let you go. It's proving a little more difficult to keep you let go.
Truly ruly, Mr Naughty, while I dozed on Saturday night, wishing for an end to this so that I could sleep, so that it would be over, but wanting it never to end, I was thinking about how I felt about us, Once in a Lifetime Dog. And I thought that though I can't know for certain, I've got an idea that the pleasure and the love were shared equally between us. But the honour ~ that has been all mine.
Goodnight my Puppy. Thanks for walking the road with me for 13 1/2 years.