21 February 2009

“Old Age ain’t for no Sissies” –Bette Davis

Max and I came to be when I received a call from a friend telling me that a black lab pup with too many white markings would be put up for adoption rather than sold. When I saw him, he was in a pen, running back and forth the dirt flying as he raced to and fro. He was tiny but determined to get someone’s attention. When the gate was opened, he raced into my arms, barking “let’s get going!” It was love at first sight, happiness and gratitude, you're mine and I’m yours. Ten years passed like a flash.

Last year Max’s battery started to wear down. In March, his thyroid acted up causing a skin condition which required that he receive a bath not once but twice a week. Have I mentioned that I live in a small home with just one bath with an equally small tub? Have I mentioned that Max weighed at that time 85 some odd pounds because he was not only well fed but had convinced my husband that freshly baked bread from a nearby Italian bakery, was a necessary daily supplement?

Each bath required that a medicated shampoo stay on his coat for what seemed an impossible amount of time. Have I mentioned that Max hates to get a bath on a quarterly basis let alone twice a week? It wasn’t pretty but my bathroom was never cleaner and Max’s skin condition went away.

Memorial Day weekend comes and we enjoy a barbecue with the family. Max is the life of the party looking to swindle food from every family member. He succeeds but when all have gone home I notice he paces, just can’t get enough water and is unable to settle down for the night. By the time Monday night comes, I know that my dog isn’t himself and call my vet at midnight.

The result of the examination? Max is a diabetic. Even though he isn’t pure lab (hence the white markings and the funny paws), he has enough of the lineage to assure the disease prevalent in aging labs. He gets injections—we have worked up to 20 half units twice a day. Max lost twenty pounds despite eating everything put in front of him. His new diet isn’t exactly what he would like but he has gotten used to it and yes, he still gets a bit of Italian or French bread as a treat with the vet’s blessing. In last three months, Max’s eyes have developed cataracts as a result of the diabetes so he can‘t see very well.

The oldest puppy in the world has taught me a thing or two about ageing. I watch him as he negotiates around the house without sight. I marvel at his almost immediate submission to injections as a fact of life. I watch him as he cons my husband into giving him treats. I am thrilled as he walks our neighborhood , head high, feeling the wind in his face. There is joy in every movement and moment in spite of it all.


rebecca said...

Honestly, I feel like crying. This brought back so many memories of my dog. I had a 165 lb. rottie (yes, he was a big, big boy!) who became diabetic in the later part of his life. Injections twice a day. Special food. On top of that because he was a rottie he also had hip dysplacia which is common in rotties. This meant that in the last year of his life he could barely walk and my husband and I had to make this special carrier that we put under his belly that would allow him and I to be able to assist him outdoors when he needed to go to the bathroom. It was all very sad. When he passed away I cried so much, for so many years, that to this day I refuse to own any more dogs. It is just too painful when they leave us because we have loved them so much. But, as life would have it, my daughter has two spaniels and guess who spends the weekends with us? The pups. So the heart strings are now being held by them. *sigh* Puppies, they get you each and every time, one way or another.

Your little man is beautiful and he is so lucky to have you. Thank you for posting this story.

C.M. Jackson said...

Rotties are sweethearts. Your boy sounded like he was no exception. We are lucky to be given the honor of having such wonderful creatures in our lives. I make it a point to cherish the moments. I am certain I will be reduced to a puddle when my puppy is no longer with us. I am glad you have some puppies in your life even if it is only for the weekends. Peace.


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