January 26, 2017 8:00am
I am listening to you eat your brown crunchy things that we buy at the Canadian Tire Store. You’ve always sounded the very same when you eat. You push a mound of mini chunks across your silver bowl three times, then you take just two morsels in your mouth and turn away to crunch them a few times before swallowing them and pausing to consider having some more. A photo of your best friend, Oscar, is taped at eyelevel above your bowl on the island. It has been in your dining area your whole life. Even though you can’t see it now because of your cataracts, I believe you know it’s there. Probably, it’s more for my enjoyment than yours.
I know this is likely your last breakfast. So many things in recent months have felt like the last time you’ll do them – our trip to the cottage, Christmas Eve with Jessica and Rob, your walks with Nanny sitting on her wheelchair, your visits with Aunty Jen. All of these times have felt heavy with deeper meaning. The writing has been on the wall for a while now.
You’ve been really showing your age the last 6 months. For a wiener dog approaching his 17th birthday, you have been a rare example of stamina. But there have been obvious signs that the end is near. This last week, you are in some kind of internal pain. You won’t let us pick you up. I am taking you to the vet today.
We had thought a great deal for many months now, that these were all borrowed days. You still wag your tail when you figure out we are nearby. You still eat and drink and poop and pee, but there are so many other things you struggle with. You have anxiety and howl mournfully when you realize you are alone. Consequently, we haven’t left you alone for more than half an hour this past 18 months.
I’ve hesitated to let you go to heaven because you are the pure joy of my life. When I’m not with you, I think of you and miss you. And now in your old age, I worry about you. My friends are witness to my worry.
For these nearly 17 years of your life, you’ve given me so much love and you’ve given me a place to put my love. You are a “love sponge”. As a puppy, you were so cute, it was hard to put you anywhere but in my arms. At first we bought into the idea that you should sleep in a cozy little kennel beside our bed. But you cried there. Puppy tears! I would sing, “Go to sleep my little Buckaroo” to you but it would not work. So we abandoned the kennel and you slept with us at our feet under the covers for 12 years. Then you decided to sleep on the floor in your own bed, which to this day is a big blue comforter from Rob’s childhood bed.
You may have sensed something between your Dad and I, even long before I did, and you wanted to give us some space. When your Dad stopped coming home – magically appearing at the garage door right before dinner – you became my saviour as dogs often do. I may have held you too tight for a long time then. It wasn’t fair but you indulged me. You gave me 10 times the love and kisses you normally do to somehow hold my heart together. And it worked.
It’s been four years since that big change in all our lives, and those years came with a steady stream of older dog issues. Let’s just say, your file at the vet’s office weighs more than you do.
You went from running like a mad man all through our big house to just wandering across our hardwood floors in our new apartment. You used to climb up the stairs in that crazy wiener dog style Oscar taught you when you were a pup, now it’s hard for you to navigate a low curb. So I lifted you up. Just like you lifted me up. Our walks became shorter. And now you won’t let me lift you at all, because it hurts.
I slept on the floor beside you all night. You wanted to go out for pee at 2am and then you wanted up on my bed for a cuddle. But you couldn’t tolerate the “lift”. So I put all my bedcovers on the floor and you slept and snored while I stayed awake beside you and cried.
What will I do without you? My Mom always asks me the same question. I truly don’t know what it will be like to not expect to see you in front of the fireplace in your tattered little bed, or on your expensive porch potty on the deck, or at the door wanting out, or at my feet at the dinner table, or by the dishwasher, or in the back seat of my car, or at the cottage on the lounger, or at the beach biting waves, or lying beside me with your head on my pillow.
It’s now 3:15pm.
I have cried most of the day but also I have cuddled you and patted your soft little head in the spot where there’s a crease just above your eyes. I gave you cheese and peanut butter and tuna fish, but not all at once! You used your porch potty like a good little boy, but it was obviously a struggle. No walk today. In an hour and a half, our dear friend Debi will be coming to take us to see Dr. Kennedy. You love Dr. Kennedy, she’s been your doctor for 15 years. The time is going by very fast. It seems like only yesterday you were that darling little chubby puppy we picked from Sassy’s litter up at the Bourncrest Farm near Elora, Ontario.
You don’t seem to be suffering but you are definitely struggling just to stand up. I have made the choice to put you “to sleep”, as they say. You seem to like sleeping now more than ever. The playing is nearly over. You can’t chase that gross old Kong in the condo anymore.
My sweet, adorable Old Baby Wiener Dog. Mom loves you best in the world. You are scratching at the door of heaven and I am trying to be brave enough to open it for you.
No matter how many times you scratched to get out, I always, always opened the door. Even in the middle of the night in the pouring rain in Morgan Creek when I was scared of the darkness in my life – I always let you “go”.
January 27, 2017 9:00pm
You have so many people who adore you my darling. Most of all you have me. I held your little paw and kissed your sweet face as you left this life to enter heaven. Try to find Winnie and tell her we miss her. We will always and forever love you, Bodger, our dear little soul.