Wednesday, July 8, 2009


It always precedes and bleeds into the first couple of days on a trip out of town, when I have to put my beloved girlies in the care of others. Of course, I cried when we dropped Cecil off at the kennel. She hates it, and I hate it for her, even though they take great care of her. It also didn't help that my pet sitter left me a long rambling message a couple days before I left town, making sure I left all contact numbers for my vet, wanting to know if I wanted her to call me "if something would happen", with the disclaimer at the end of the message that, "Tara's getting older, that's the only reason...."

I don't blame her for worrying, I guess. Tara is 14 and has a chronic medical condition. However, her calls to confirm before I leave usually consist of, "Hi, I'm starting on (date) at (time) and finishing on (date + time). Let me know if there are any changes or if there's anything else I need to know." Maybe she sees more than I do. She asked very similar questions on my last couple of trips before Gunner went rapidly downhill at age 16. It doesn't help that every time I go out of town now, I have memories of having to take Gunner for his Last Ride the night before that trip. He was ready. I wasn't, though I know it was the right thing to do.

However, Tara's still happy. I find myself sometimes having to justify my decisions to people. After all, Tara still being around is the reason we're doing the "long engagement" thing and living in separate houses. I don't trust her and Cecil to not get into a bloody, scary, knock-down, drag out fight to end all fights - and with an 8 year old in the house, it's just not an option to try moving them in together. My arms and hands still bear scars from separating Tara and Gunner. And - only real dog people will understand this - it's just not fair to move Tara in her last years into a new and unfamiliar house where she'd be relegated to the lower level of the house and have to deal with another dog with a personality similar to hers. Sometimes when you are charged with the care of someone, you have to do what's best for them, even if it's not the ideal situation.

I guess the pet sitter sees the way she laboriously makes her way on the stairs, stopping to sit and rest halfway down sometimes. Or the way she loses her balance and sometimes her back legs just give up, and she follows suit, flopping down wherever fate fells her. Or the poopy accidents. Sometimes she doesn't even realize it's happening until it's too late. On good days I notice the telltale (telltail, ha) tail raise and get her outside on time. What I prefer to focus upon, though, are the good things: The way she hauls herself up off of her orthopedic dog bed to greet me when I come home, and the unbridled joy in her clouded eyes when she opens them, focuses, and realizes it's me. The way she still rolls on her back, kicking her legs up in the air and barking her demands for breakfast and dinner. Her habit of eating only part of her breakfast, pacing around until I make my eggs, waiting for me to top off the rest with a discarded yolk so she can finish up. The way, when I'm home, she is always aware of where I am, and is right there beside me. The once rough and tumble - now gentle and much abridged - play and wrestle times we have in the evenings.

I think I will know when it is time, and if maybe I don't see things as realistically as I should, I can count on my best friend, who also happens to be Tara's vet, to help guide my decision. What I do know, is that it's not time right now, but that doesn't mean it's not hard to be away, knowing our time left together is short.

I miss my girls already.

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