1 08 2008

She was a blue blood. Well, not really but since she had the dubious honor of having won a Toto look-alike contest at Chesterton’s “Wizard of Oz” festival…she was a queen to them. This scrappy little Cairn Terrier had ruled the roost for 17 long years but last summer it was more than apparent that Skye’s days were numbered. That is when it really hit me that they were in serious decline themselves… they couldn’t see how badly their poor dog was suffering. We’d all been out of the house for decades but she was still there giving them something to dote on.

Just the week before, she’d been carefully placed into the back seat of the car and taken to the Dunes for one last look at a beautiful Lake Michigan sunset. I doubt she saw much as her eyes were in a rather precarious state of shuttedness via crustacionitis (I made the diagnosis after looking it up on webMD – jk).

So on that fateful summer morning I was the grim reaper. They just didn’t have the heart. I’d take her into the vet and have her put down. She wasn’t one of “my” dogs – like Freckles – killed while chasing the car my dad drove with me (probably about 10 years old) in the front seat, on the way to yank my sister out of some party she’d snuck out of the house to attend when she was supposedly babysitting me (definitely another post here). Anyway, back to Skye. Despite the fact that she convinced my parents that the basement made a good litter box as well as various and sundry special spots around the house – (making her less than pond scum in my book) – I did shed a tear as the vet ceremoniously gave her last rights before the syringe that had her singing “Lucy In The Sky(e) With Diamonds”. She didn’t even make it to the chorus.

A recently widowed friend stopped by to visit with my folks this week and wouldn’t you know it…like thrusting a knife into my thigh…they asked how her new “baby” was? “Margie Larson’s kids got her a new puppy – but you killed Skye”. That’s the message I got loud and clear. And of course her wonderful daughter who happens to be married to the mayor of the city (a younger brother of a friend of MINE) took the puppy home and got it over the first month of whining, crying, pissing and moaning (housebreaking). Wasn’t that sweet and thoughtful?

Having worked in a rehabilitation hospital I know what affect therapy dogs can have in healing. But dogs don’t last long if you don’t feed them, right? Isn’t there a perfect little Japanese bot that really looks and acts like a dog but they can’t kill and won’t make the house smell? How do I set this up when they can’t even figure out when to take their own meds?

The other night my mom had gone to bed at 8 p.m. or so and wandered out to the kitchen at midnight. I scared the bejesus out of her as I crept in behind her to see what was up. She was “going to take her a.m. meds”, she said. “Oh no you aren’t” – I said. “We’ll wait till breakfast in another 6 hours if you don’t mind”…so my point is – they no longer know how many times they’ve taken pills in a day even when the container is empty – how can they ever feed a dog? Maybe we should leave sleeping dogs lie (permanently).

Until then say a little prayer with me as you contemplate images of the Skye shrine in my Dad’s room. I will seek to explain it’s contents. The “Skye Box” was a wooden crate kept in the breeze way her shield her from the elements…she was of course a Cubs fan by birth (he just cut off the Skye part). Her purple collar with a McDonald’s sticker over her tags. Whenever my folks would go to MickeyD’s – my dad would leave a few bites of his double cheese burger with everything but onions untouched. He would then wrap it with the corner of his wrapper and seal it with the same seal that had come with his special order. And she always felt special to have been included in their outing even tho she had to fiercely defend the homestead from evil preditors like the UPS man. Note also, the date of her homegoing…cut from the paper that day and attached with 2 little hearts left over from her heartworm medicine that they hadn’t been giving her for who knows how long. And last, but not least, a few photos and one hand drawn description of the breed he had copied from a dog book. Now raise your glasses as I’m sure Billy would say if he spoke Gaelic and was throwing back a shot of whiskey

“Go mbeirimíd beo ar an am seo arís”

May we be alive at this same time again


1 08 2008

It’s 7:15 p.m. and they are both on their way to bed. It was one of those days that I felt like I was a bumper pad on a pool table. He couldn’t talk to her without growling, but he’d talk to me and then I’d talk to her – then she couldn’t say anything right to him so it’d bounce back from me to him. When this is bad – it is really really bad.

Somehow at lunch we got on the subject of a certain nursing home here in town. Was it a veiled threat on my part? No, we were just talking about her experience there after a total knee replacement a few years back. “It was pretty nice, I thought. But there is one thing I couldn’t figure out…why are there so many people in wheelchairs parked in the hallways all day long?” OH – Even I know the answer to that one today.

It’s because they can be plopped down in one place and pretty much stay put. End of story. No more fussing. Like time-out rugs with wheels. If I am only dealing with two here and could figure a way to sting them both with an immobilizer gun – you bet your bottom dollar I would.

It all pretty much makes sense to me now – that tone in her voice on the phone at the end, or in the middle or at the beginning of one of “his” days. Torture day. Pure torture. Suffocating. There was NO food that he’d eat, NOTHING that tasted good to drink, pants too TIGHT and on and on – all the stars in the universe in chaotic misalignment. I mean big time.

But today I managed equivilent of the wheelchair trick…he got a haircut. He sat there captive for all of a quarter of an hour – quiet, pained look on his face and too scared to move. Can that be replicated?

Since he officially announced he was going to bed, I’ve shown him how to take off one of the two shirts he was wearing, helped him take off his socks (only to be shocked at the sight of his swollen feet – a given by product of the heart disease that would send you running to the ER), complained that he didn’t want a sheet over him, shown me how he snuggles up to lay right beside the wall (don’t ask me why – but I’m sure there is a reason), gotten up to get his water bottle (which he won’t drink) and gotten up to go to the bathroom one more time…I expect that I might have time for one or maybe two Bravo shows till he’s out of bed again.

He’s not a happy camper and there is no way to help him today…except maybe by just sharing it.