Thursday, March 15, 2012

On the Roof

Boy#1 asked about Our Dog Pepper when I talked to him a couple of days ago.

"She's doing fine," I told him, "but you need to remember that she's a really old dog. One of these days we're going to be calling you to let you know she's died."

We talked for a few minutes about how a 14-year-old dog is really 98 in human terms, and how she's been slowing down. Once she could jump high enough to peer over the 8-foot fence in the back yard; now she mostly sits on the deck and watches the world go by.

Then I told One that we'd break any bad news slowly. We would do it like that old joke where the guy was taking care of his brother's cat, and when the cat's owner called home to check on his pet, the brother informed him the cat had died.

"What? That's a terrible way to let someone know about a beloved pet!" the owner shrieked. "You need to let me know more gently--one day you tell me the cat's on the roof, then the next day you let me know she's not eating, then you finally say you did all you could but the cat had died."

"I can do that," the brother agreed. And with this compassionate lesson learned, they moved on. 

"How's Mom?" the first brother asked.

"She's on the roof."

Last night Boy#4 took Pepper out for a walk. She was spry for the first few blocks, but then she walked more and more erratically and finally vomited. This morning she was trembling and we took her to the vet, resigned to the possibility she might have suffered a stroke or some other catastrophic event. The vet assured us that he's looking first at an inner ear problem which would be treatable, but cautioned that at her age, Pepper might not recover. He'll be calling with the test results later this morning, after he's had a chance to do a thorough exam.

The picture I took just before we left for the doctor's office shows just how grey our dog has gotten in the past few years. Her eyes look old and tired. Husband, holding her collar, looks unutterably sad.

She has been a faithful, energetic friend for 14 years, and now she's on the roof.

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