Hard Things

Dear Millie,

How’s everything?  I hope things are going well.

Our dog is getting old.  The average lifespan for a German Shepherd is 11-13 years, and in May, she’ll be at 13 years.  She’s getting frail.  She’s looking too skinny.  A neighbor stopped by and mentioned how skinny she was looking when she pet her, and I looked at a picture I have of her from the fall and the difference is startling.  I hadn’t realized.  Her bark is still robust, but her eyesight and hearing are going.  Just last week, she barked at the front door to come in and she sat outside right in front of the full-length window.  I opened the door and she just sat there, waiting and watching.  I said her name, and she didn’t budge.  I yelled her name, and she looked up and realized the door was open and came on inside.

She walks with her back arched, and has a difficult time getting up and down the stairs.  Sometimes, I think without realizing it, she walks on the tops of her paws when coming down the stairs.  Yesterday, she ended up coming down sideways.  It seems like she just can’t get both ends coordinated.

I am terribly distressed about this.  On the one hand, it seems this is just the natural progression of things.  On the other, we had her for two years before we had children, so in a way, she was our first.

I need to make an appointment with the vet for her, but I can’t do it.  I’m going to have to make Gordon go, but I’m worried about the outcome.  What if they tell him she’s suffering and then she doesn’t get to…come home?

What if they find something wrong but treatable and the treatment is costly?  How much is too costly, knowing she likely doesn’t have much time left?  But what if it’s costly and it does buy her some healthy, quality time?

I went to visit a friend the other day whose dad had just passed away.  We both cried.  Then we didn’t talk about her dad as much as we talked about cheap beach houses in North Carolina, peanut butter fudge, and her dogs who were so happy to get extra attention.  I couldn’t get over how BIG they were compared to how our dog looks–so small and frail.  During the course of our visit, she mentioned that one of them had been so sick last year and she thought it’d be the end.  He’d lost a lot of weight and wasn’t nearly as responsive as he’d been in his younger years.  They had to carry him up the stairs like a baby.  They did take him to the vet, fearing the worst, and found out he had two tick-borne illnesses.  They treated him and he’s perfectly fine!  THAT’S the kind of story I need.

I knew when we got her that eventually we wouldn’t have her.  I hate that she’s slipping away and I can’t bear letting her go.  I just hate the hard things.


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