This is our dog, Shasta:
She tends to view anything left on the floor as a bed.
She doesn’t mind being the baby in our family.
Or losing at every game she tries to play.
She’s even pretty good about letting us use her white fur for an occasional canvas.
Shasta has only been ours for a little over three years, but we couldn’t love her more completely. When she first came to us she was already an adult, about eight years old. But she acted like a puppy. In short, she was a
pain in the butt bundle of energy. If the door was open, she’d run away. Sometimes she’d even jump over our backyard fence (six feet high) to go off on her excursions. She chased squirrels. She dug moles out of the ground. When we went for walks, I could never keep up with the pace she wanted.
Two summers ago, she jumped that fence one last time. Six feet is a huge jump for a little dog and she injured her neck. She recovered, but became cautious and slow. And then arthritis crept in. Her eyes are beginning to dim. She prefers sleeping to any other activity. She can’t even make it around the block without needing to be carried. Sometimes Shasta goes for a little stroll across the living room. When she gets to the wall, she stops and seems to wonder what to do next. She’ll stand there staring at the wall until one of us goes over and moves her.
It has happened so quickly, but she is an old lady now.
A few weeks ago she developed a UTI. I took her to the vet where they prescribed an antibiotic, but warned that sometimes UTIs in older dogs result in incontinence.
Last week she started peeing all over the house. We took her back to the vet. After a round of tests, it appears as though she has another UTI. She is now on another round of antibiotics and seems to be doing better.
She has slowed down considerably, but seems happy. Even so, these incidents are a warning of what is to come. We have never had an older pet. I am having to face things I don’t want to. Someday, perhaps not too far off, I’ll have to ask myself, “Is it time to let her go?” How will I know?
I think we all are sensing the clock winding down.
Newt was brushing Shasta the other day and putting all the loose hairs in a ziplock bag. Sometimes she likes to start strange collections, so I tried to nip that one in the bud.
You are not keeping a bag of dog hair. That’s garbage.
She replied: Mama, I want it to remember Shasta by, someday when she is gone.
I gave the bag back to her, with a teary smile.
Yesterday Shasta surprised us by chasing a cat from our backyard. I haven’t seen her move like that in so long. It gave me hope. Hope that maybe we still have lots of time, maybe even years, but I just don’t know.
In the meantime, we’ll try make her as happy as she’s made us, and watch and pray to know when that’s no longer possible.