Saturday, August 23, 2014

and now for something completely serious

Camp has come and gone. I had a great time, learned a lot. I got home at the beginning of this week, resumed working and running and practicing and all the other stuff I do. I will write about camp at some point, but tonight I am going to write about my dog.

Her name is Speedo. She was a stray who wandered into my yard in 1998 and decided to sleep under my car, a 1965 Plymouth Valiant I had nicknamed Speedo. So when we decided to keep her, we named her after the car. Unlike my other dog, she responded to whatever we called her. She was about the same size as the other (18-month-old) dog, so we assumed she was the same age. When we took her to be spayed the vet said she was about 9 months old. I decided she was a big dumb dog, an opinion which stuck for years.

I also decided she was a selfish immature dog, always competing with the other dog for attention even though we had plenty to spare. But she'd run up to the other dog and knock him out if the way if one of us was petting him. She'd also fight him for food, and sometimes hump him (from the side, never from behind). I had no idea what to make of this. I thought she was a big dumb dog.

And then somehow, after a few years, I fell in love with her. There turned out to be a big brain inside that big dog. And a big heart too. Unlike the other dog, who was born in a state of dismay that never left him, Speedo was happy. She had things she liked to do. She knew how to enjoy life.

She did a lot of cool things which I won't list right now, because it makes me sad that she has changed so much. She is nearly 17 years old. She has more and more trouble getting around. She has an artificial ACL in one knee and arthritis in both hips, and she is either weak or in pain or both, which is very noticeable when she tries to get up and walk. She can no longer reliably tell us she needs to go out, and there are accidents. She has lost weight. She sleeps a lot, especially during the day, and wakes us up several times each night, just pacing as much as her wobbly legs will allow. She does still like (and ask for) treats, and for a few minutes each day she has the energy and inclination to play whatever games she can play while lying down (she bats at our hands, or pretends to bite). But most of the time she is out of it. We keep her as comfortable as possible, but she is dying.

I have no children, but I want for her what I imagine most parents want for their children. I want her to be happy. I don't want her to suffer. This is breaking my heart.

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