If you follow me on Twitter or Flickr, then you have seen my dog Sally. She came into my life 11 years ago at the end of a summer of major transition. I had moved back to Minneapolis from Vancouver, BC after finishing a graduate degree; I bought my first house, made a will, started a relationship with a financial planner and an accountant. The real reason for buying a house rather than renting was so I could easily get a dog. In September 2001 I began the search. On September 18 I was perusing photos online at local humane societies and I saw Sally. A quick call to verify her size and I was in the car, driving 35 minutes to the shelter. I was sitting in a meet and greet room waiting when Sally was brought in. She practically sat on my foot, leaned her back against my shin and tipped her head up and back to peer up at me. That was it. I was in love. I filled out all necessary paperwork and we were off to the house, with a pit stop at a pet supply store.
We had our moments over the first year, she was a handful, but she was also the most loving dog. She learned to preen for all the comments of people on walks and I grew to love coming home to her joyous welcome. When I met G, she slowly warmed up to him and we became a little family.
Well, fast forward to today and Sally is now a senior dog. She is somewhere between 12 and 14 years old. We noticed in the last year that she slowed down a lot, but really, that was to be expected. Then in early November, Sally had a health scare and we were at the emergency vet on a Sunday night. We had blood work done and I watched her closely after, but she was completely normal. Everything seemed good. Just last Friday I took her to the vet for her mid year exam and as our regular vet and I looked at her blood work, there were some things to be worried about, so we did another round of blood work. Unfortunately, the second round only showed things with her kidneys were worse. There really isn’t much that can be done for her other than a diet change. So she started on prescription kibble to see if that will slow things down. But the reality is that she is an old dog, her body is wearing out. We are entering into our last phase together.
Recently Khoi Vin lost his dog Mister President. His writings on the subject are so eloquent and he puts into words exactly how I feel about my relationship with Sally.
He doesn’t talk and he doesn’t write and his listening and comprehension skills are debatable, but he’s incredibly expressive and incredibly empathetic nevertheless. I know him so well that it feels as if we are in a kind of perpetual silent dialogue; his moods and his needs and his troubles are transparent to me, and probably vice versa.
For now I am thankful that Sally is showing no physical symptoms. In fact, if you met her, you would never know anything is amiss. She is not currently showing any signs of discomfort, but that could all change if things gets worse. G and I have had the talk about what how we will handle this phase, I am grateful we are on the same page.
For now, I spend my days working at home with Sally snuggled into her crate with me in the office. Lately she has taken to wanting to be in the same room with me all the time, which is fine by me. I don’t know how long this phase will last, but I am grateful to have the time to prepare. I’ve had my crying fits, but am at peace. She is a great dog, one I feel grateful to journey with, no matter how much longer that lasts.