today i came home from work to an interesting scene, one not very unlike other scenes jason and i have both experienced…
let me preface by saying that our sweet, older dog, bridey, is getting a little loopy as she gets older. she just turned 15 and i’ve had her since she was 7. so, needless to say, she’s been one of my very best pals over the years. she’s always been there for me, silently supporting me and/or speedily running from the vacuum (in her youth, anyway. now she loves the vacuum).
in the last 6 months jason and i have noticed a change in her. she has lost most of her hearing (this decline into deafness actually started about a year and a half ago) and her eyesight isn’t the greatest anymore. sometimes she misses the doorway and veers a bit towards the door-frame. concerning, but also comical.
i’ve discovered, actually, that most of what an old dog does is both concerning and comical. perhaps we find humor in the changes because there is nothing else we can do. we know that her time with us will end, but we hope it will end later rather than sooner. and we also want to be sure that she continues to have a good time in her last years.
perhaps bringing the ridiculous and pushy puppy, bolt, home wasn’t her favorite thing, but i think that having his youth and spunk around has made her feel a little younger herself. she seems to be annoyed by him most of the time, but when we separate them for her sake, she looks over the gate at bolt longingly (one of our jokes is that she’s simply forgotten that bolt is as annoying as he actually is).
her memory has also gone, for sure. she remembers us, but sometimes thinks it makes sense to bite at us or walk in circles. sometimes she goes the opposite way when she knows it’s time for a walk… perhaps she knows of a secret back door that jason and i are neglecting.
her new favorite bizarre activity is to bite the edge of the water bowl when the water has run out (and it does often because she trips over it and knocks it over a few times a week so we keep less water in it and refill more often). and when i say bite, i mean bite. you can hear her old lady teeth banging up against that thing from a mile away!
in addition to her failing memory and auditory and visual senses, she has also lost some control over her bowels and bladder, as can be expected. we tried a lot of different approaches to dealing with this since when we are gone for the day she gets too confused and forgets that she’s pooped on her bed and lays in it or steps in it and tracks it everywhere. we tried crating her (which we never did before because in her youth she would rather explode than use the bathroom in the house) and that only worked to a certain degree. it caused her to think that she should try to hold it longer, but if she had to go she would always end up laying in it. ahh!
we tried keeping her in the hallway while bolt was in the kitchen but the hallway is carpeted and a few times she somehow pooped in her own water dish. seriously. i had never seen anything like that before. our theory is that she got turned around and “stuck” in a corner and then let it fly.
the latest method has been the best; we’ve kept her in the kitchen with bolt. we decided that he’s old enough to leave her alone for most of the day and if she uses the bathroom the vinyl can certainly handle it. the last few months she’s been doing much better, and we’ve barely had any accidents.
and then today happened…
i came home to find pee drops and smears (where she had laid on the ground after laying in pee) all over the kitchen, poop on 2 of the rugs with other little bits of poop strewn all over the room.
the worst part, though, was this: bolt’s bed (which is made out of a synthetic material) had become a cauldron of poop soup. the middle of the bed was water tight enough to hold a lot of pee and within the pee i found some poop that had dissolved. so, poop soup.
the cleanup was unappealing, as you can imagine, but i have long since gotten used to strange concoctions that bridey accidentally prepares for us while we are at work. the thing that i was most grateful for was that neither dog had anything on them–i have no idea why–so neither needed a bath to rid us of dog-doused-in-poop-soup.
this story illustrates, once again, how bridey is aging and getting a little loopy. and while i used to complain and get downright angry about these kinds of things, in recent months i simply just feel lucky to know her. lucky to know her after all these years.
she’s been my best friend for a long time, and always held up her end of the bargain–loving me and looking out for “bad guys” as best she can. i hope she continues to have fun on the farm and share with us her old lady dog “scents of humor.”
i’ve done a little emotional preparation for the time when she’ll leave us, and dr. pitcairn’s complete guide to natural health for dogs and cats has an excellent chapter about loss and letting go of pets when the time is right.
but for now, bridey continues to make our days better, albeit somewhat messier. but, isn’t that all that life is anyway? different sorts of messes and learning to love and appreciate through them all? bridey is one hell of a mess, but also one hell of a friend.
and i am grateful everyday to see her face.
–to bridey, my first life partner