I know there is something called “the sandwich generation” – where you are stuck in the middle of caring for your kids and at the same time, your aging parents. And yes, I would consider The Winey Hubby and I to be in that category right now – but not deep into it. Our mothers are both doing well and living on their own and thriving. Ditto our kids.
But lately, there has been another concern on the horizon for the two of us…. A beloved member of our family is getting older, and frailer and has recently come through a very serious illness. And our hearts stop for a moment every time we think that we may have to say goodbye to her someday, sooner than we would ever like to.
I’m talking about our oldest dog. She is a Maltese and will be 12 in June. This past year, she had a very serious battle against what can best be called a mysterious auto-immune disease that attacked her liver. Since then, she has been so extremely fragile and shaky that we have had to face the fact that she will not always be with us.
Chloe came to us at the age of 9 weeks and the whopping weight of 1 pound, 11 ounces. She stole our hearts immediately and has had a very firm hold on them since that August day she drove home on The Winey Daughter’s lap. (This is a significant detail to report, because up until Chloe joined the family, The Winey Daughter was afraid of dogs. And just like that….Chloe came and she wasn’t.) She is the doggie who was single handedly responsible for introducing The Winey Hubby to the joys of dog ownership (and by that I mean her owning us, not the other way around), as he had never had a dog until that day. She was also the only reason I agreed to turn 40, since Chloe was my 40th birthday present.
Chloe cuddled and romped and barked and generally took the prize when it came to the cute puppyhood phase. She never met a person she did not want to give her a tummy rub. Likewise, any hip was fair game for snuggling up with on the couch.
She grew to be an amazingly well behaved, loving doggie. On our trips to the beach, she never needed a leash. She followed us as we took our sunrise and sunset beach walks, with a detour into the cooling water when it was needed. She sat on her chair (yes, she actually commandeered a beach chair one day and it forever became hers) and waited for us to come out of the water. She rode on the boat with us.
She was and still is the doggie of our hearts. So much so that one day, two years ago, we opened those hearts to another little doggie named Rory. For the record, Chloe was okay with her new little sister –but there were times when you could just hear her mind working. “Really, I have to play with the baby again? She’s always bugging me.” And then we’d walk in and find the two of them snoozing doggie butt to doggie butt on the couch.
So what do you do when you suddenly begin to realize that the beloved doggie you have loved for over a decade is not doing well? And how do you decide that enough is enough when she has been pricked and prodded and poked and examined more in one year than she has in her entire life up until now?
I can only tell you what we have been doing. We carry her up and down the stairs now. She is carried in and outside when nature calls. She gets chicken and rice to tempt her to eat when she loses her appetite. She has her favorite pillow to rest on – even if it does take up half the couch. The tummy rubs must be administered with extra gentleness these days. And because Chloe has never appreciated the joys of a spa day, I have decided that that from now on I am her groomer, with a warm bath in the kitchen sink, nails clipped while swaddled in a blanket and lots and lots of kisses and treats throughout. And if we can’t take her with us on a trip, we aren’t going. She isn’t in any pain, she’s just….slipping away, ever so slowly.
For now, she will get all the tender and loving care that she deserves. I just wish that loving a dog could make them stronger. And that every kiss would add another month to her years. She’d live to be about 500. Easily.