Sad news about Doo

I’ve thought about writing this post for a week, but I haven’t been able to say anything without getting frozen with emotion.

I turned a corner with regards to Doo Dog the weekend before this past one. Those of you that don’t know the story, Doo is my 17 1/2 year old American Cocker Spaniel and my best friend in the whole world. He has been mostly blind, deaf, and bladder-incontinent for some time. He loses his balance often. He runs into things. He gets confused easily. He rarely sleeps through the night. He paces. He is easily startled. He wears diapers. Peeing on himself and not being able to see as he eats means that he gets greasy and smelly pretty quickly. But bathing, never one of his favorite activities, has now become occasion for a panic attack. He freaks out, thrashes like a crazy dog, poops in the tub, and it turns into an ordeal for us both. Usually a people-loving dog, he tried to bite the groomers last time he went and they eventually gave up and gave him back to me untrimmed. He doesn’t like to go outside unless it’s not too dark and not too bright and not too cold and not too wet. Suffice it to say that he makes a mess of the house. Often.

I’ve been dealing with this (with the help of my naturopathic and allopathic vet) for quite some time. Nothing major happened last weekend that precipitated a shift in my attitude about continuing on. It simply got to be too much.Now that I’m back at work full-time, I can’t keep up with the demands of caring for him. Consequently, I’m usually frustrated or disgusted around him (because I’ve just cleaned up a mess), or tense and controlling because I’m vigilantly trying to prevent the next frustrating or disgusting episode. And then I cry and cry because I hate that this little being who has been absolutely devoted to and adoring of me for his whole life has to suffer not only his own infirmities but my negativity as well.

I’ve been praying that he will simply die on his own, peacefully. It has been tearing me apart that my own inner resources ran out before his. Especially since there are still a few things about life that he seems to enjoy (e.g., eating, sniffing things in the yard, being with me).

I’ve been spontaneously breaking out in crying fits about this all week–less and less over the confusion and guilt of ending this and more and more over the grief of not having him in my life–and I imagine that I will continue to grieve long after he is gone. We have been together nearly half my life and all of my adult life. It’s hard to imagine life without him, and the idea of cruising down the highway without my little buddy beside me is so so sad.

A lot of friends and family have offered “if I can do anything–anything at all ….” I’ve got a couple of very understanding friends to go with Doo and I for the final event. My vet sent me flowers. That has all been really good. Mostly, it helps a lot knowing that the important folks in my life care and understand how confusing and heart-wrenching this process has been. Perhaps, if you all could keep Doo and I in your hearts on Saturday, October 27 at 11 AM MT as his little soul departs this world, it would mean a lot to me, and, if you don’t mind, make a little prayer for the peace of his soul … and to fill the Doo-shaped hole in my heart with peace, gratitude, and wisdom.

and now, a refuge in poetry …

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God’s dog.

When I walk my elderly dog, I often think of the parallel of my relationship with God. I wonder, does my beloved friend feel forsaken when I’m away at work? Does he blame my faltering omnipotence when my tardiness reduces him to the shame of unloading an unbearably full bladder on the forbidden rug? When his deadened hearing and failing eyesight lose track of my footsteps, does he feel lost even though I am still right beside him, silently grateful for his companionship? In his bursts of joyful energy, if he runs right off an unseen curb and stumbles, does he feel betrayed even though I am scrambling to keep apace with his exuberance for life? Or, when he feels my hand scratching his ears and he melts into slack jawed bliss, does any of that matter? Is it maybe enough that the best I ever could do was cherish him?

How can I tell him that there isn’t anything I wouldn’t give so that, when his life light dims and fades, he won’t have to wonder where I have gone, that all the while I will be hugging him with the total force of my being, in a pool of grief, wondering how to bear a world unleavened by his devotional heart?

It’s not that different, really.

Blizzard!

Woo hoo! I love this weather. There’s nothing like a helluva snow storm to make everything seem perfect and pure, as long as you don’t have to drive anywhere. 😉 I saw the predictions last night on the news and hopped into my car and drove over to work and picked up my laptop. And–damn–am I glad I did. It has been coming down hard and fast since about 5 AM. Highways are completely closed from Denver to Nebraska, Denver to Kansas, and Denver to New Mexico. The airport is closed and 2000-3000 people are stranded (can’t fly out and can’t drive out). The governor has called in the state patrol to rescue stranded drivers. (Live storm report can be found here.)

The snow was so high that my poor old dog couldn’t even get out the door for a proper constitutional and elimination round. So, I shoveled him a walk. And put him in his booties so his paws wouldn’t ice up and in his fleece jacket to keep him warm and dry (he is such a wimp about the cold), and off we went.

Doo, don’t say I never did anything for you.

Pile it on …

I’m hormonal, I’m about to spend some of my precious rainy day savings (that I had been hoping to use soon) on a new car that I didn’t really want, Hermes and I got into another simple miscommunication thing tonight that required complex unravelling, my cat’s drinking fountain stopped recirculating water tonight, and my aging dog’s dementia seems to have been acting up this weekend seeing as how he has been clinging to me like a freshly laundered sock.

Dear planet Mercury, fuck off.

Mood Thermometer

My mood is improving. The sun is out, the snow is melting, I had a good cry after the Doo Dog post, Hermes wants to come over tonight and take care of me, and frankly I’m having an excellent hair day. If my eyes weren’t puffy from crying, I’d have my picture taken for a replacement employee badge.

I decided it was stupid for me to be sitting at work when I could be at home and give my hips and my heart a better rest. So, now, I’ve got Doo laying on my left leg, P’Sheesh (my cat) laying on my right, and I’m reviewing documentation.

As for my ongoing laundry list of complaints …

10. The state of the world sucks. Especially this country. I’m embarrassed by our behavior. What makes our country exceptional is not its ability to produce wealth. It is our defense of civil rights and the wide range of possibilities for an individual life. And that’s being sold out by institutions we trust and we’re going along with it because of some skewed sense that we need it for our safety and security. And there’s no end in sight. We are in the midst of age of rigidity and righteousness. We are locked down. People are turning on each other. It scares and angers me. I think about this kind of stuff a lot lately. It makes it hard to sleep easily.

9. My relationship to my job is still a problem. I’m good at what I do. But I don’t feel I belong there any more. I don’t have a clear enough, hopeful enough image of what my life could look like without the career I’ve had all my adult life. And, probably more importantly, I get down on myself for being such an impotent wuss about bellying up to the bar of change.

Lest we forget about complaints 8 through 1 …

More troubles on my mind …

8. I’m scared of losing my dog. He is pushing 16 years old. I’ve had him since he was 3 months old and he has seen me through a lot of rough times. He has a lot of ailments now. The only one that I know of that is life-threatening is his heart murmur. He was diagnosed with it many years ago. But, then in 2002, I was grieving a big break-up and crying all of the time and he started hiding under the desk in the spare room whenever I would cry. I’ve heard that animals go and hide when they are ready to die. So, I got worried about him and I took him to the doctor. I couldn’t bear to lose Doo as well yet. The doc said the heart murmur had gotten serious. I took my pooch to a specialist who said that they’d have to put him on expensive drugs with bad side effects and give him ultrasounds every six months. I debated about this and decided against it. I promised myself (and Doo) that I would not try to drag out his time here simply because I was afraid of letting him go and that I would focus on giving him the best quality of life I could while he is here.

I also consulted an animal psychic. (Go ahead, roll your eyes, but I don’t care. I was desperate for some sort of emotional understanding of how to proceed.) She told me that Doo is very devoted to me and worries about me. He wants to be there for me but my grieving was getting to be too much for him. (If you just look at it metaphorically, his heart was breaking for my broken heart.) He needed just fun time. She also said that it wasn’t his time to go yet. That he would stay with me until I was OK and would be taken care of. His time was coming but, when it did, he would just go and I wouldn’t have to make any agonizing decisions about whether or not to keep him alive. Knowing that his happiness was dependent on my happines, I made a point of pulling myself out of my funk faster than I would if left to my own devices. Like in childhood, a lot of mental health is due to the love of a dog. (Honestly, when it comes right down to it, my dogs are a big reason why I have made it this far. I feel incredible gratitude and love for them.)

But now I’m being taken care of now by a wonderful man who is really devoted to me. He is really good to me. Way better than any relationship I’ve ever had. Way better than I would have even expected or dared directly asked for. You can see where I’m going with this …. Right now, he and I live in separate homes and that means time with him often means time away from Doo. I’m really afraid of coming home one morning and finding that Doo died alone in his sleep. Every time I leave the house, I look at him and wonder if it will be the last time I see him again. I really want Doo to be happy all the way to the end. I want him to know how important he is to me and how much I care about him and how sorry I am that I haven’t always given him the attention and devotion that he has given me. Every morning I wake up at home, the first thing I do is stare at him to see if he is still breathing. I’ve been doing this for years now. But somehow it seems more of a worry now. The other morning I woke up and pulled him to me and curled up around him and laid my hand on his chest and felt his heart. It went boom …. boom boom boom … … … boom boom … boom … …. boom boom boom boom. Very irregular. Very scary. And very amazing that he has survived so long and with such a great attitude and energy level with such a funky ticker.

For the list of today’s complaints 7 through 1, click here

National Day of Complaining

I’m not doing well. I’m more down lately than I’m used to. It’s really wearing on me. Little things don’t just roll off me. I need to get my worries off my chest. I declare today my personal National Day of Complaining. Be prepared.

Just for starters …

7. I’ve started my pilates physical therapy. I felt great after the first session on Monday. Like walking on air, I felt so light. I’ve been trying the exercises on my own. But I think I’m overworking my muscles or maybe working the wrong ones because my hips have been so tight for the last three nights that I’ve had a hard time getting comfortable enough to sleep, and then even after I finally fall asleep my hips wake me up at about 3 AM begging to be stretched. The lack of good sleep is making me irritable and touchy. My whole inner pelvic area seems pretty tense and locked down. I go back on Friday for another session. Hopefully, the instructor can correct whatever it is that I’m doing wrong.

6. My car is burning oil, I think. Quite quickly. It’s a 14 year old car with 140,000 miles. She has been great to me. But she’s on her last legs. Every time I drive her, I wonder when she’s finally going to give up the ghost. I make a point to not drive on low trafficked areas when the weather is inhospitable so that I don’t have to go far to find help if she dies. I’m worried about having to add car payments (on a new/used car once she goes) to my financial obligations.

5. My dog peed on himself while sleeping. Again. We’re up to at least two big accidents a day now. I have to keep him caged when I’m not home, which is a lot. I feel horrible about that. I’m constantly having to do laundry (for the towels I put in his cage). He is getting baths so often that he starts having muscle spasms of nervousness whenever I get near the tub. It takes a lot of time, and other parts of my life are getting squeezed in order to give more attention to this. Bathing him is hard on my back. I’m going to look for baby diapers at the grocery store tonight.

4. My L5/S1 vertebrae is slightly out and it’s making my back tender today.

3. I sat in a hot tub for probably 45 minutes on Tuesday night. It was something I arranged for Hermes with a friend–it was her hot tub–so that he could unwind after an exceptionally stressful day in a stressful week. (It’s the first week of the new trimester and so the kids are jockeying for power and seeing how much they can get away with. Middle schoolers, ya know.) Anyway, the chemicals in it weren’t as bad as in most hot tubs, so I thought I’d be fine. Unfortunately, my environmental/chemical sensitivies kicked in. My skin has been itchy ever since and I have a hard time sitting still. Yesterday, I started to get a rash under my arms. I can’t even tolerate Tom’s of Maine deoderant.

3. I forgot my glasses this morning and am getting a headache typing this. I am going to have to drive back home to get them.

2. I lost my employee badge for work.

1. The cat puked on the good rug this morning. He’s not sick. It’s just his routine monthly puking. But today was not the day I could handle that in stride.

I’m just warming up here. So, you may want to save your sympathies for later posts.