On our ride home from the vet.
Annabelle is a very sick girl. Recently diagnosed with Lymphoma she will not be with the pack much longer. I say that and find it hard to believe. Do I sound accepting of this fact? Not really. I am more in denial that she is so ill. She is a trooper. Now on prednisone, her symptoms are masked, and she is quite content for her remaining days. However many there are. I don’t have a clue, no one does. The fact she is with me now, happy, pain-free, and enjoying her time here is good enough for me. I chose not to put her through extended treatments. She is old. It would not buy her enough time to make that time so unpleasant for her.
We don’t know how old Annabelle is. She came to me in late April 2009, when I was on my dog adopting frenzy. She was number two. The folks with animal rescue pulled her from DeKalb Animal Control. Her owners turned her in, giving her age as five years old. A quick run by the vet brought up many guesses as to her real age. Anywhere from 8 to 10, based on her teeth and overall health and appearance. She had puppies at one time, maybe lots of them, her belly sagging low as she walked. Her teeth were a mess, and shame on me, they still are. Annabelle had a few teeth pulled but the rest are still in her mouth. Her breath could knock you over. Yet, she gives kisses freely, even now, and her breath? Well love conquers all.
Annabelle had her chapter, Someone New In My Bed, in my widow memoir, Her first night in her new house - my house, our house, and the doghouse, where the numbers were growing - told me all I needed to know about her. She got up on my bed and curled next to me. I rolled on my side, slipped my arm over her chubby tan frame, and slept the best sleep since my husband had died the year before. She had come in for a trial run but I knew she was mine forever.
She could put the cartoon character Maxine to shame. Annabelle can be a curmudgeon, a cantankerous old lady, or a sweetheart. She looks like an old school marm on days and on other days she smiles her partially-toothless grin that is infectious. She is a heartbreaker, no doubt about that, and soon will be breaking my heart.
Our time now is fun. I treat Annabelle as a princess. Of course, all my dogs are spoiled; she is just getting a bit more attention and a bit of special food. I tuck her meds in hunks of rotisserie chicken. She inhales the bits so quickly she has no clue what is inside. Her eyes are bright as she does a happy dance.
Trips to the vet include a stop along the ride home. A bit of Chick-fil-A sandwich, a small cup of low-fat yogurt from Brusters (free to dog visitors) and plenty of treats tucked in my pocket to keep her entertained on the short drive.
Her arrival back home is that of a rock-star. Five dogs sniff her butt, saying Welcome Home. Rascal licks Annabelle’s face, a caring gesture that happens often and I have yet to figure out why. I wonder if they know.
I do not count her days. I count my blessings. I am lucky to have this time with her and with all my dogs. Each day is a miracle. For her, for me, for you. None of us, canine or human, know how many days or years we have left. The gift is to live those days full of love and compassion. Perhaps a dog enjoying her remaining time teaches a lesson for all of us. My old gal Annabelle is full of grace and beauty, and yes, rotisserie chicken. She won’t let me forget the chicken . . .