By Frank Sheftel
I’ve been fortunate enough to have had pets both growing up and as an adult. And as I have admitted before I’m really a dog person. Nothing against cats, but dogs seem to like me better. I currently have the last of the original dachshunds that I bred from the mom and dad dog I had. Junior outlived them all. From the original litter, the only boy with four sisters was my pick to keep.
Now anyone that is truly an animal lover understands when I say that all my pets are like my children. They mean more to me than some of my human family. When Junior’s brother Jake passed away a few years ago I could see how depressed Junior was becoming. Afraid of losing him I got Stix, a Mini-Pini-Wawa, rescued from a shelter. Junior perked up pretty quickly with Stix around and the two have really bonded.
Two years later we have another new addition to the family. Lucy, a little blonde Apple Head Chihuahua puppy has joined our four-legged family. Stix has taken some time to warm up and Junior seems nonplussed about the matter. Lucy loves jumping all over Junior and nibbling his legs as he wanders around the house. She knows better than to do that to Stix. He’s less tolerant.
But lately, Junior approaches his 18th birthday (that’s 156 in dog years!) I see him slowing down and nearing that time. That time that I’ve come to know and dread. He’s lost most of his sight and hearing yet still finds his way to the kitchen, the food dish and water. He tends to walk in circles. Lots of circles. Until he wears himself out. And the nights that I am awakened by a howling Junior stuck behind the couch unable to get out are becoming more frequent. I dread the day I have to make a choice to put him to sleep and would much rather let nature take its course and find him in his bed comfortable and at home. But as long as he has an appetite and runs to the kitchen for dinner and snacks it’s really not my place to play God.
It’s been a long goodbye but one I’m not ready to give in to. And at the same time, we are saying “Hello” to our new little sweetie, Lucy. Saying hello as we say goodbye isn’t easy but somehow it makes the cycle a bit more
comforting and tolerable. I’m hugging Junior a lot more these days. And saying goodnight is much easier than saying goodbye.