My dog is shrinking. Honestly. And there’s no bone density test for the family mutt (like there is for the maternal one). After all, once past the age of 7 she’s over 49 in “people years,” and doesn’t that explain that the dog is less perky, less playful, less “big?”
Let’s hear it for Daily Denial! Land that I love and inhabit as often as Daily Crazy… it’s my helper, my crutch, my drug-free fantasy factor, my switched-on survival skill that clothes me, shelters me, and keeps me cranking through the worst of times.
But let’s face it. Denial doesn’t last. It’s a quick fix, a band-aid. I can’t pretend there aren’t tufts of gray around that sweet snout and soft underbelly. When I take the dog out – without the leash – she no longer bounds away with glee in her eye and wind in her tail.
Maybe the boys are right. Maybe she isn’t shrinking. It’s just that they’re growing fast, and I’m wearing stiletto sneakers.
Recording our moments
In our home (and possibly yours), we record our heights on the threshold between the kitchen and the den, marking the growth of each child.
Granted, this isn’t a perfect science – messy little lines and gouges, notches with the kids’ initials and dates inked in. There’s no particular schedule either, though it’s a ritual on birthdays or the new year.
One son has grown steadily, so his recorded height appears on a more regular basis. My little one hits a plateau and doesn’t budge for months or more. Then BOOM, overnight, and I can literally see that he’s grown. His marks are more erratic and more frequent; I (now climb a step stool to) etch his height into the door frame constantly. In fact, he’s racked up 6″ of growth in the past 14 months. He’s a teen. It’s his job.
And he is, and isn’t, “my little one” anymore.
The dog’s job?
The dog eats, sleeps, smiles, plays, pees and poops. The perpetual toddler, without the terrible twos.
But she seems smaller. She’s aging – happily, mind you – and I can see it (even if the boys can’t). I’ve mentioned to them that we need to be more gentle with her, more attentive. She’s getting older (now 13) – about 91 in people years.
Given the age of our children when most of us welcome a family pet into the home, the departure of beloved Fluffy or Fido may coincide with packing up our sons and daughters for college. I understand what lies ahead.
No conclusion, only love
Endings – to everything – are a natural part of the cycle of life. In our pets, that cycle is accelerated. I have no solution, because there isn’t one.
What I do have is a store of images to call upon – my little boys squealing with pleasure as she does her version of Air Bud. The silly way she sleeps on her back – still – with her legs spread wide open. The years she took up more room in my son’s bed than he did. I also remember two days when she went missing, having disappeared into the woods the afternoon before an ice storm, and my joy when she returned – half frozen, but fine.
So I deal with her waking me too early, her constant need to go out, and cleaning up after her messes. I stroke her face more often, and “spoil” her with treats. Because I know that time is precious, for all of us. And in whatever time we have, it’s all about love. And that’s something I can’t deny.