The first time I heard of a bucket list for a dog, it was in a news article and it made me cry. This elderly dog had been abandoned by his family at the shelter, after spending twelve years with them. Apparently the family couldn’t bear the idea of watching their dog, a member of the family, decline due to incurable cancer. When the terminal diagnosis came, they felt it was far more compassionate to abandon their dog to a local pound, where he could die (or be euthanized) in his last days, wondering where his family was.
Humans… are the most inhumane creatures on this planet at times.
What a kind soul did is see a post by the local shelter and she adopted the dog. The shelter vet thought he might have a month, perhaps less to live but was also moved by the situation and disgusted by the surrendering family. That kind soul… took in a terminally ill, elderly dog and made a bucket list of fun things for him to do, in his last days.
I am home every day with Diego right now. I’ve been working from home full time since June 5th and rebuilding my freelance client work. So far, so good and having learned a lot in the last year, I am choosing clients who are a delight to work with. Balance matters to me deeply, and I am not a singleton anymore. I have a husband, a bigger family and children who need my energy just as much as my career and income does. Actually, they need me more, and while I miss the money, I am proud of the path I am taking. It allows me to be home with Diego too… which is a blessing.
Every week it seems that he has more bad days than good days. Given the journey that my life became, I am perhaps more attached to Diego than most people will understand; that’s okay… you don’t have to “get it”. He’s my best friend and my kid. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to give up after my divorce, but I knew I had him to provide for. Sounds stupid? Maybe you’ve never had a dog before…
He is almost blind now and can’t see in the dark. We make sure that we dote on him and help him. My husband is so amazing with him too, and is just as attached as I am to Diego. They have some kind of “bromance” going on, and Diego manipulates Kevin on a daily basis. And Kevin knows it. And loves it. I married a man that loves nature and animals as much as I do.
As I write every day, schedule the social media posts and take conference calls, there is a 14.5 year old one-eyed, nearly blind, artificial hip replaced pudge pudge old man chihuahua at my ankle. Whatever room I am in (even if I get up to get a coffee) he putters behind me slowly now… but insistent on being in the same room. And if I leave to go get groceries, he gets upset and worked up.
His xray and cardiogram showed us that his enlarged heart was impinging on his respiratory tract. Thankfully the medications and diuretics have dried up the fluid in his lungs, but he coughs and gasps… still. And there is nothing I can do for him but make sure he drinks water, stays calm, feels loved and enjoys his life as much as possible. And I try not to let him see me cry. Last night was really bad, and I barely slept. His bed was to the right of our bed, and I kept reaching over to make sure… he was still there, pretty much all night. And I bawled like a child to Kevin last night… because that is entirely helpful and adult of me.
Today the words aren’t coming easily, but I will flog myself anyhow because I AM an adult. I have a business to run and deadlines… and I am going to plow through my action items for today as quickly as I can, so that I can sit on our couch and put him on my chest… and talk to him. He is stubborn like I am. He’ll stay as long as he can and I won’t give up either. And I’ll be here for him and love on him every day, and make the most of whatever time I have left with him.
Diego’s Bucket List
- Have a hamburger and mashed potato and gravy birthday cake on December 5th.
- Explore Texas with Lori aka: road trip!
- See Diane and Aunty Kimmy on Skype.
- Have a picnic by the lake and bark at ducks and geese.
- Eat a vanilla ice cream cone (by myself).
- Spend time with Lori & Kevin 1:1
- Have more puppy shiatsu massages.
- Love on my kids.
- Re-home the cat (okay that one isn’t happening but it is good to dream)
I’m working on my “woman up” and grown up stance, and reflecting on how much adventure this little pot roast has had with me. He drove from Ontario to Newfoundland and back (he took the ferry). He has seen two oceans and about ten different lakes. He’s been camping, and hiking and has also been a super popular hip city dog, near Yonge & Eglinton in Toronto (he was the dude in the Burberry). He has loved kids, and nieces and nephews, and formed a huge bond with Kevin. He has driven from Ontario to Texas, and is now a landed American resident with his own puppy-passport. He’s done Gay Pride Parades and writers retreats, cottage life, boat rides to Toronto Island… the list goes on.
And for most of his life, he has been my muse and ghost writer… nudging my toe in between paragraphs with a little wet nose.
*Mental muscle flex*
I’m sorry if I am not the best “me” right now. I’m trying to sort it… and refocus. I’m going to keep working on it.
All I keep thinking is how to bring him joy, not worry. Being a parent (of pets or kids) means playing down your emotions for their benefit and I am getting better at that. He can tell when I am sad, and I want joy for him, not concern or worry for the next ten years that I have him.
I don’t believe in ghosts but I believe my cat Joey is waiting for him, and that they will wait together for me too. So funny for a pragmatist to believe in the whole “Rainbow Bridge” theory right? I know… I am consistent like that.