As I write these words early in the morning, my little dog Toby lies at my feet. I can hear his heavy breathing and feel the difficulty as the air passes through his throat. He is no pup, but at about ten years he isn’t old enough for any of this. No, he is not old enough to lose his hearing, partial sight and most of his mobility within just a few weeks. His breathing is so hard that I can hear it all night.
I watch Toby’s decline from one day to the next and think about life. The debilitating process is tragic, no matter what you are. I remember once seeing a woman push a stroller with a dog in it. How ridiculous it had seemed at the time. But now I want to buy one just so I can take my Toby for the walk he must be missing and I don’t care how absurd that may seem to others.
The veterinarian doesn’t know what’s wrong with him, but guessing he must be having some sort of pain, she has prescribed a strong anti-inflammatory. Toby doesn’t like his medicine and I don’t like pushing it down him! He doesn’t like what is happening to him. I hate it!
Today I will cook chicken for him again and I will pray for the sound of his nails scratching – and ruining – the silk cushions on my sofa! I will pray that someone up there hears his thoughts. That he can communicate his suffering to an invisible guardian angel. I pray that the doctor’s hunch about pain is wrong. My heart aches for him and I pray that he knows how much I care.
He seems so calm, despite the dark tear marks that seem to get darker each day. I miss his silly barks as someone passes near the house. I miss his happy run down the hallway and the funny way he slides before he can stop. I miss the excitement in his panting when I pick up the leash for a walk. I want my happy Toby back. He’s the only one who hasn’t left the house. I can’t let him go, not unless he, too, goes to college.