I've got two lovable muffs. The elder is Bandit... 12 years old, mixed Lab. He's undoubtedly the smartest dog I've ever come across. And undoubtedly the most loyal creature I've ever known. We got him when he was 6 weeks old, he was the runt of the litter. He was hiding in the corner of the dog pin when we went to pick him up... shy, nervous, uncertain. But within a month he was this happy furball who just loved being around us, always hamming it up for love and attention, always there to pick us up when we were going through some sort of struggle. I tell ya - this dog knows what's going on... he's always had this ability to sense things. Tail wagging a hundred miles an hour when things are good, and then just leaning up against you, all serious like, when he sensed that something was wrong, as if to say, "I don't know what you're going through. But know that I'm here for you."
Well... 12 years later, he's showing his age. His health is deteriorating, his mobility has become an issue. He's dealing with neuropathy, his back legs are finding it difficult to respond to his brain's commands. The vet told us earlier this summer that this would likely happen, and that it would eventually progress to the point where his quality of life would be lessened considerably. I now find myself helping him up the stairs, on occasion he will just poop without the ability to control his bowels. Taking him outside every 3-4 hours helps... no accidents to speak of for the last three weeks or so. He doesn't appear to be in any pain, he's not yelping out in pain or anything like that. Which is good - you never want to see your pet suffer needlessly. But it's also not good - because it just makes it all the more difficult to know precisely when it's time to say goodbye. He's had a wonderful holiday with us, enjoyed seeing my daughter come home from college... enjoyed spending time with her friends when they would come over, still lives for the attention and love, even from strangers. I tell ya - I'm praying we can get at least one more Christmas with him. My kids, they're both young adults now. They can't remember life without him pretty much. I try to encourage them to enjoy their time with him, because I see how much his health and mobility have deteriorated in just the last year, as I'm the one who essentially takes care of him when everyone else is away. Knowing when isn't easy, but knowing when is also incredibly difficult. Just hoping we can enjoy his companionship another year.
Here he is just chilling out on the couch, where he spends most of his time these days. This pic was taken a few months back.
Duke, on the other hand... he's a full-breed Yorkie. His older brother didn't care too much for him when we brought him home, lots of energy. Small dog, huge heart. Not afraid of anything, ready to take on the world... He's 7 years old, but still hasn't quite lost that puppy energy and curiosity. Bandit is laid back, whereas Duke is ready for action 24/7. Early on it was like mixing oil with water, but as they've both grown older and spent 7 years together - Bandit has become more tolerant of his energetic shenanigans. Make no mistake, however... Duke loves his big brother. I'll be sitting on the couch with Duke in my lap and say, "Where's Bandit?" and he'll run over to him and try to engage him to play with him. Duke has become more laid-back over the years, which Bandit appreciates. But when Bandit is no longer around - Duke will be lost, to be sure. Big brother and little brother, they are.
Here's Duke, sprawled out on the couch on Christmas Day, no care in the world.
So trust that I can appreciate the loss, Provisional. Our furry friends are indeed family.
Someone smarter than me once said, "Dogs teach us a lot about life. They teach us how to share, they teach us responsibility, they teach us how to love, they teach us how to forgive. And in the end, they teach us how to deal with loss."
Thinking of you, pal. I fear that soon enough I'll become familiar your pain.
Remember the good times!