The health scares my old Brindle Dog has had lately are eating at me. I find myself drawn to posts about dogs who have just died, dogs at death’s door, dogs whose euthanasia has been scheduled. I’m reading the eulogies and final farewells and fond reminiscences, and getting all teary-eyed and sniffly.
I refuse to believe this is my instinct speaking. The Brindle Dog is only eleven years, eight months, and three weeks old. I could have lots more time with her. She still chases after sticks and barks at other dogs and gobbles up her food and digs under the deck. She doesn’t do those things with as much speed or grace or stamina as before, but she is still fully engaged with her own life.
I refuse to believe this could be my Good Animal Voice trying to prepare me for something. I refuse to even sit still with that possibility and listen for its truth. Instead, I read about the old or dead or dying dogs of other people, and for those moments, my heart is full of their pain (which has been and will again be my own).
I’ve commented on so many of those blogs and Instagram pictures and Facebook posts and tweets. How many variations can I come up with for “There is nothing as wonderful as the love of an old dog” and “I am so sorry for your loss”??? I don’t even try to vary it. I mean it deeply and sincerely. To have the love and trust of an old dog, to know an old dog inside and out, to be the one that old dog turns to in moments of fear or joy—it’s corny to say it, but this is a gift and a privilege.
I prefer to let my mind and heart slide away from the fact of the Brindle Dog’s mortality. I am not ready. I can’t imagine ever being ready for this. But someday, when she needs me to step up and do the last loving act I can do for her, I will hold her and talk to her while she goes on her last adventure. I hate it. Every time, I hate it. But when she is ready to go into the kind darkness, I will help her get there. Meanwhile, I am pretending that day will never come.