When Maddie joined our household, she was already old. From the beginning, the people at the Humane Society, and the first vets I took her to said she only had a few good years left, considering all her problems. Hip dysplasia, osteoarthritis, major allergies. Not to mention the fact she weighed a rollie-pollie 100 pounds. That was nine years ago.
In the meantime, she’s lost 30 lbs, eaten a whole Costco chicken, devoured several Atkins peanut butter cup, Houdini’d out of hotel rooms, marked a whole other continent, locked herself in a medieval tower, had a toy stuck on her face, and a number of other slighter escapades I’m surely blocking from memory.
She isn’t quite as mischievous these days. Grey is taking over her paws and muzzle. But it wasn’t until recently that it sunk in that she might be closer to the end than the beginning.
A week ago she had a horrible cough, couldn’t catch her breath, was gacking up floods of mucus. Immediately I thought CHF (congestive heart failure). I frantically searched the internet looking, as most do from time to time, for an answer, and a way forward. After my freakout, I took her to the vet. They were not so volatile and calmed me down with a diagnosis of an upper respiratory infection.
The antibiotics made a huge difference. She’s regained some of her doggie sass. It is hard to not notice that she’s aging. Walking a block is about her upper tolerance level for exercise, and she sometimes looks confused.
I feel awful when I look at her and wonder what to do if her ending is not so quick and graceful. In a way, it’s a kind betrayal. For her comfort and quality of life. And yet I don’t want to miss today by looking ahead too much. I’m not certain of the answer.
I am sure that each present moment is one to enjoy and embrace. So, I will be smiling at her snores and twitching feet, ecstatic at the presentation of toy when I come home, amused at her inhalation of food and excitement at treats. And together we’ll stalk the neighborhood cats.