No Word on the Street this week. Not even a murmur or a whisper. It’s difficult to feel the vibrations in the pavement when you’re a thousand miles away from your hometown.
Instead, a tribute to my female companion of the last thirteen years. She’s got four legs.
And no, my little friend hasn’t died yet. But when you’re a canine and you’re thirteen, going on fourteen, you know there’s a not a lot of time left.
And here’s the thing: Lucy—that’s her name, she’s a chubby rat terrier—is helping me understand what to expect and how to act in the twilight of your life. Fortunately, she isn’t burdened with the psychological baggage or agonizing family entanglements or expensive, late-life medical decisions that we humans have to deal with.
She’s just getting old and, as dogs do, she’s accepting her plight. No whining, no griping, no “Why me?!” Does she know that one of these days she’s going to fall asleep and never wake up again? I don’t know. How could we know?
What I see now in my companion is a little dog who approaches stairs cautiously, stares glumly at the task ahead, and then proceeds slowly, jerkily, one step at a time. I hope it’s without serious pain. She’s not wincing yet.
A few years ago, she raced everywhere, thrilled by the freedom, the wilderness, the openness, the scents, and the simple, exhilarating ability to stretch her legs and test her endurance. Now it’s just two minutes outside to do her business in an icy, snow-covered backyard, and then a quick return to the warm comforts of her dog bed perched on the couch. Even that little, cushioned jump brings hesitation these days.
She now rests or sleeps 23 hours a day, sometimes more. Snores loudly. I love it.
She’s got cataracts but she can still see reasonably well, and the vet’s not about to operate on an aging dog. No need to put her through the trauma of surgery. Hell, she’s traumatized—shedding enough hair for a fur coat—by just a routine visit to the vet.
She’s half-deaf. You have to nearly shout at her to get her attention.
But her big, honest, loving, doggie eyes are always on me when I’m around. She wants to be near me, she needs to be near me, even if it means tackling those damned stairs. She’s depending on me to be there when she needs me. She’ll certainly expect me to be there at the end.
And who knows? She may still have several months, even a few years left in her. God, I hope so. I just don’t want her to hurt.
But again, no complaining from her. She’s aging as gracefully as her nearly fourteen-year-old body will allow. She’s showing me how it’s done. She’s showing me the way.
What a gift.
What a gift from a gal named Lucy.