I’ve been very worried about my dog, Charlie.
In May, he was diagnosed with congestive heart disease. An enlarged heart that presses against his larynx and produces a cough whenever he gets too excited. An even though he’s thirteen in just a few weeks, I realize that I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to my bud. Not now, not ever.
He’s always been a sweet little guy. A sixteen pound apricot poodle with eyes that follow you around the room. Well, in reality, it isn’t just those eyes. He is constantly underfoot, yearning to be close. I’ve had dogs before and never let them sleep in the bed. But Charlie insisted. After a year of waking me up in the middle of the night, crying and yelping in his crate, I finally acquiesced and never looked back. Many a night I have found myself on the edge of the bed from his insistent pushing. Paws planted on my back. That’s dog love.
Every morning, we enjoy a 6 am walk. And as I stumble along, asleep, waiting for him to do his business, I see the world through poodle eyes. I observe what catches his fancy. What makes him so excited that he practically races from bush to bush. Charlie loves the morning. The walk and eating. I often think he’d enjoy the sunrise too if he’d only bother to lift his head and check it out.
For now, the vet says he’s stable. But each night, I’m required to count his breaths to determine whether his condition has changed and whether we need to adjust his medication. I’m grateful for the calm, but the ritual has now focused my attention on the inevitable.
Well-meaning friends tell me about their dog’s final days. And though I know we all love our pets, I’m not quite ready to hear their stories. Unless I specifically ask, I wonder if it just a bit unkind to share those details. And probably insensitive of me not to respect their trauma.
So for the moment, the world is a great place. Charlie is with me. Watching, wondering when we’ll be taking the next walk. Playing the next game of catch. His eyes, work to capture my attention, demanding another treat. We’re happy together for the moment as he snuggles close and drifts off to sleep.