Friday, June 19, 2015

Jack's Flag

     On my walk today I detoured by Jack's on Goodrich Street.  Every once in awhile I walk by there.  Last week there was a deer out back on his neighbor's lawn.  Today there was a yard sale. 
     There were a lot of old things so I stopped, thinking I might find something of his, maybe lost in his attic til now.  I asked the woman taking the money and she said that no, none of it belonged to him.  She asked me why and I told her that Jack was a very good friend and that when he passed I never received anything and I didn't realize that there had been an auction to get rid of his belongings. 
     She told me to wait, then opened his garage.  His flag was rolled up and in the rafters.  His flag.  Not one that he carried into battle or was draped on his coffin, but the flag he had been flying on his house.  She got it down for me and as she placed it in my hands she told me she had felt him in the house.  She felt that he had been a good person.  I assured her, through my tears, that he was. 
     Just the other day I was talking to D about how much I still missed Jack and how I wished I had something, besides memories, of him.  We agreed that the memories were enough.  Today, I believe that Jack decided that maybe I could have a little bit more. 
     Thank you Jack.  I miss you and love you.  I know what that flag means to you, and I am honored to care for it for you. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Start of Goodbye

            It’s happening.  We’ve been waiting for it and knew the time was coming.  Our old girl, Sky, is feeling her age.  This morning we woke up to pitiful cries coming from the living room.  D usually gets up with the dogs, and it’s been getting earlier and earlier.  I told him this morning (at 4:30am) to put in his ear plugs and wait until five.  They need to learn one just does not get up at the crack of dawn when one goes to bed AFTER dark.  So he gets up at five (4:55) and goes downstairs to find our girl in a mess of pain.

Sometimes I feel like such an ogre. 

So he gives her an aspirin, lets them out, feeds them and then later comes upstairs to tell me that she is really sore.  We know that this has been coming.  She’s been very stiff in her hind legs for a while now and when she walks up steps her hind end actually hops.  Luckily she doesn’t have to use steps all the time.

She’s been incontinent off and on, and we know it’s not behavioral.  Last night she lost control and pooped a little in the house.  I told him when I went upstairs to bed.  We know this isn’t good and this is finally what prompted me to have my old dog, Jack, put down.  Not because I didn’t want to clean up messes – I would have forever, if he was happy, if his quality of life was good.  But he wasn’t happy and he was hanging around for me.  It was the hardest decision I ever made. 

Now the decision belongs to D.  Sky is his dog.  All I can do is let him know of my experiences.  I’ve had dogs and cats all my life.  Sky is his first dog and from the way she looks at him I believe she absolutely adores him. 

When I came downstairs to get ready to leave for work she got up and walked out to the kitchen to see me.  Her legs were so much stiffer than I’ve ever seen them and I was afraid she was going to fall over.  D wondered if maybe there were pills the vet could give her to make her comfortable, but I think a cortisone shot will make a difference.  He wonders if it’s his fault she has lost her muscle tone and is so frail.  I told him that some old dogs get fat, some lose weight, but they all get old and this is normal.  I told him it wasn’t his fault.  She cannot stay a puppy forever, no matter how little gray she sports. 

We’ve been lucky to have her as long as we have.  We know she is between 12 and 14 years old.  She was hit by a car when she was a puppy and within the last several years her back legs hurt when she exercises too much.  She loves to swim but she won’t stop once she’s in the water.  She’ll cry as she paddles but she won’t get out.  And she’ll bite at the bubbles until her tummy fills with water.  It breaks our hearts to keep her out of the water, but she’s so obsessive compulsive we can’t let her in for fear we won’t get her out.

If only they all went peacefully in their sleep.  I held a cat once while he was dying.  His lungs were filling up with fluid and there was nothing I could do but hold him and talk to him and pray it went quickly for him.  His family had abandoned him and he adopted me.  I never want to lose another animal like that.  I never want her to feel helpless and in pain and not in control of herself. 
This will be a hard summer of saying goodbye.  I hope we do her justice and make her as comfortable as she can be and I hope when the time comes he will know it was the only decision he could make for her.  And that it was the right decision.