I think we have to put our old dog down. Except when he comes back to the porch after being in the yard, the look on his face is that of a puppy. But then he takes the stairs one at a time like he would hold on to a hand rail if he could reach. And when he must hop over the threshold into the dining room, he misses and falls, his back legs splaying behind him. He gets up and tries again but he is uncertain in his blindness. Where is the threshold, I can hear him asking himself, I remember it being here.
He is lying here on the bed with me. He is sleeping but restless. Every few minutes, he wakes and adjusts his legs or head. He doesn’t sleep in our bed – no dogs or children have ever been allowed here, our one private space. He always sleeps on his bed on the floor but I think he is failing so I have him here, my aged puppy. Part of me thinks he could expire this very night.
The woman at the veterinarian’s who did his last blood test nodded at me when I said we were wondering about how much more to do for him medically. “You have to consider his quality of life,” she said, as she has probably said to the owner of every aged pet. But what is his quality of life? If he’s happy here on my bed, should he just stay? If he likes sleeping on the back porch while I work, is that a good life? And for whom, I guess is the question. Maybe he is ready to go.
How well we’ve become used to the constriction of his life. From robust, hearty dog to diabetic, blind dog. The circle of his life tightens everyday but we accommodate. We know him in real time but think of him as he was. The real dog is in there in this tired, falling creature and we love the real dog. And we are having a devil of a time giving him up. What a sad little time this is.