Friday, October 20, 2006
Our oldest dog Casey is old. She will be 14 in a month. She's a Siberian Husky, so it is quite an achievement that she has lived this long. She is not overweight and is in pretty good health. But her age is showing. She's a little slow getting up and down from a nap. She can't make it down the stairs to the basement anymore when she has to "do her doggie duty" in the middle of the night, so we have been finding "Casey presents" on the living room floor in the mornings. She doesn't like loud noises, and she twitches when she hears them (I call her "Katherine Hepburn" when she does this - it looks like a palsy shake). She doesn't eat two meals anymore...only one.
Our vet tells us that Casey has very low liver enzyme levels. This is typical with a tumor of some sort. While nothing shows up on the latest x-ray, our vet has prepared us that Casey might not be around for very much longer. We can spend a lot of time and trouble finding this tumor, or we can let her live her life out to the inevitable end.
We've had Casey since she was a puppy - we got her when she was about six months old. We had been married about a year and she was our first venture into committing to someone other than each other. I was worried we would never be able to go out at night anymore - that we would have to rush home to feed to dog. Mr. Goofy assured me that we would make it work. We did.
I remember the first night we brought her home. She was in her crate in the corner of our bedroom, and upon waking up to find herself alone, she made these funny bark-yelping noises that sounded exactly like a dying monkey. We buried our heads under the covers laughing until she calmed down and went back to sleep. After about three days, she settled in and decided that we would take good care of her. And we did.
We've been good Puppy Parents. We've taken her to various parks, to St. Louis for family visits, to PetSmart to go shopping, and to friend's houses. We've gotten her piles of squeaky toys, big bones to chew, and cozy blankets to sleep on. We've adopted two "siblings" to keep her company, first Tucker (who was only with us a few years until getting slammed with a heart tumor) and then Murphy (who is currently the resident "diva" in our house). She accepted each addition willingly and with an understanding that she was not the only dog in the house.
When we adopted Goofy Junior, she became the Mother Hen. We were worried that she would be jealous. She was not. She took her place as "Third Parent". If Junior cried, she would rush to come get us (as if we couldn't hear). If he was crawling on the ground, she would hover around, protectively. She willingly submitted to tail pulls, eye pokes and skin grabs, all without any show of anger or irritation. Mr. Goofy was looking at some pictures from the last several years and came to the realization that in almost every picture of Goofy Junior, Casey is also present. She sticks by him like glue.
So now, Casey is nearing the end of her long and comfortable life. The end is inevitable, as it is for all of us. When we put Tucker down, I took the stand that we should be happy that we had been able to adopt him and give him several years of happiness and love at the end of his life (he was an older dog when we adopted him). I'm trying to keep that same perspective about Casey. But it's hard. We have given her many years of love and care over the past fourteen years, but she has given us so much more back. She has given us thousands of happy door greetings, hundreds of face licks, tons of tail wags, miles of playful puppy sprints through the house, many paw shakes and countless nose nuzzles. And I will miss all that.