Friday, May 22, 2015

Love And Loss

This is how I will remember her, alert and beautiful and eager for a walk, with her absurdly large paws planted on the broken pavement of our alley, ready to race away as soon as she sees that both members of her small flock are coming. 

We explored the avenues of palliative care but found none that would restore even a modicum of the energy you can see in the picture. All the options amounted only to a few more weeks, and sad, tired, painful weeks they would have been. 

Better to let her go. 

Whenever I lose one of my pets, I like to think I am sending them to my Mom in heaven, and she will take care of them until I get there. There are a lot of assumptions in those ideas, but I take comfort in them anyway. Yes, Mom is there. Yes, she will love caring for my pets. And, yes, one day I can join them.

We spent the last few days feeding her all kinds of things to perk up her failing appetite, stinky French cheese, bacon, hamburger. She was delighted with all the treats and the visits from neighbors who stopped in to give her a last pat. I brushed her beautiful coat twice, just for the pleasure of feeling her warm fur.

A very caring vet came to the house and was greeted, as so many have been before her, with that lazy wag of the tail and a nose in the crotch. Cora liked to get to know people intimately right away and, since most crotches were conveniently nose-height, she took full advantage. 

We fed her hot dogs while they gave her the shot to make her sleepy, and My Beloved and I were both on the floor with her when she slipped away, our tears splashing down on her white muzzle. We shared some tears and some stories with the vet and her helper before we cut some hydrangeas from the garden to send her off to heaven. We are ridiculously sentimental about this dog and always have been; she was just that kind of dog.

Her ashes will come back in a few weeks to be put in the garden along with those of my two cats who shared this house when we first moved in. On the advice of a close friend, I have printed her picture to keep in the corner where I have a changing display of family photos. None of that fills the gap left by a cold nose and those soft, bendy ears, but it serves as a reminder of how much we have to learn about friendship from a good dog.

She and I met a man out walking his dog in the last week and, as he stopped to pat her and remark upon her beauty, I told him about our troubles in that odd way we can share with total strangers over the backs of dogs who are busy sniffing each others' butts. He said something very true that evening, "They teach us about love and they teach us about loss."

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dogs and Weddings

Wow, it has been some little while since I visited here and wrote about our doings, mainly because we've been so very busy. It has been all about dogs and weddings for months now. First, we kept our neighbor, Doreen's, dog so she could have a carefree week with her best buddies. Sandy is a scrappy little terrier mix whom we call The Sheriff - she keeps everyone in line on our little street. That's her in the photo below, on the right, with her two besties, our Cora and Riva from next door on the other side.  She wasn't happy to be left with us and it took her a few days to settle in, but eventually she decided we were better than nothing. Now, she comes right in and lies down whenever the front door is left open.

Next, we went to Delaware to the wedding of my Fairy Goddaughter - we are hugging in the photo up top. She has been special to me all of her young life, so when she found Mr. Exactly Right, we just had to be there to celebrate. I love this photo with all my wrinkles juxtaposed with her smooth, young skin - taken by their very talented wedding photographer. That time, our Cora stayed with Doreen - what goes around comes around in our world. 

While we were at that wedding, we were invited to another wedding in the same family, a sort of spur-of-the-moment wedding of two youngsters who have been together for about five years and decided to make it official on Maui. 

The following week.

Well, we never miss a chance to celebrate beautiful youngsters or to go Hawaii, so we got home, repacked our bags with bright Hawaiian attire, dropped Cora off again with Doreen, and headed west for another lovely ceremony and five days of visiting and touring on Maui.

When we got home, we noted that the very slight limp Cora had when we left had not responded to the meds and rest that the vet prescribed, so we took her back for X-rays to see if they could diagnose the problem more exactly. 

Our world was rocked when the X-rays showed a large mass in her chest and lots of fluid accumulated that was making her breathing shallow. So, we are now between the rock of wanting to keep her as long as we can and the hard place of not wanting her to suffer. 

We are grateful that we had all that joy before all this sorrow, as a buffer from the difficult choices facing us today. I'll let you know what happens. In the meantime, give your pets an extra hug from me.