Our dog is thirteen years old and change. Like me, her stock of gray hair is increasing daily and her hips don’t move as fluidly as they did in our reckless youth. Living with three Y-chromosome bearers, I have occasionally sought solace and understanding through the only other female in our house. I know it’s silly (I do understand she’s a dog), but I do feel less outnumbered having a female dog, as if she does understand a certain something about our fates as the household minorities.
Today I noticed a new and rather unsavory looking sore on her leg. The sore in and of itself would be less worrisome if she weren’t already covered in tumors (ah! the indignities of old lady-hood). We’re getting to a point that I’m checking on her breathing anytime she’s been motionless for more than a few minutes at a time. She’s showing her age more and more each day, but she still has an appetite, still potties outside and still gets a big time hitch in her giddy-up when she’s happy. Nothing amuses me more than when a dog hauls ass back and forth for no understandable-to-humans reason in pure doggie bliss, doggie abandon! There’s no indication quite yet that Izzy’s days left with us are in the days or weeks instead of months column, but when it gets to the point that “something needs to be done” something will be done. Blech.
Izzy likes to be petted, but only on her own terms. She’ll tolerate pets in fits and starts, but she’s never been a lap dog and has never seemed to crave that constant attention. Lately my big kid has re-fallen in love with his dog. We have talked as a family about the reality that Izzy won’t be with us much longer. I’m no monster, but I’m never gonna lie or pretty something up so as to avoid facing facts. Since we’ve been facing cold, hard facts here especially recently, here’s another: the fact is her time left is short. Since my big kid’s totally into his dog these days, he wants to hug and pet her constantly. Because my kid can’t move smoothly, he drops down on top of/around her as he transitions to the floor with her. It startles her, and she will sometimes scramble in an old-lady-dog way to extricate herself from the situation. It pains me every time it happens. Being the other girl in the house, I feel like she should understand how much I want her to be OK with the sometimes unwanted attention. I want to WILL her to endure the pets and WILL her to be there for him and WILL her to understand that his unsteady balance won’t hurt her. Us girls gotta stick together. And then I remember–she’s a dog, you idiot. She’s the best dog I’ve known though, but even the best dogs don’t have opposable thumbs or an emotional vocabulary as broad and deep as her girls needs.