My feet tighten as I walk barefoot down the porch steps. These old, cracked bricks hold heat like asphalt; surprises me every time. As I carry her, steady and close, I try not to walk too quickly. I set her down in the grass, watch as her senses adjust. Scents first then she turns with a breeze; birds sing, nearby a truck rumbles.
Another surprise, I love these times.
I grew up in a home with a pet, usually a dog...we had so many that I can't always remember their names. I cared for my pets, loved the companionship but never was too sentimental. I played with them on occasion, rubbed them but did not get attached. I realized early on they did not last forever. My family, in particular my father, considered them blood. He would grow so attached, be with them all the time, even when it came time to bury them.
Oreo, a loyal mix of chow and border collie, was 6 months old when my father found her at the local pound. She was sitting in her pen watching the other dogs yip for attention. She kept eye contact with him the whole time." A wise dog." He knew within minutes she had chosen him. Since my parents were empty nesters she became incredibly important. Their fridge full of pictures of the new, energetic, loveable pup.
6 months later, suddenly, my father passed away while in the yard with Oreo. His last witness.
I believe she kept eye contact with him the whole time.
In the 13 years since Oreo has been a vital family member. A witness to our lives. I can't always say its been healthy but its been a necessary relationship for my family to grieve, get up and continue. She has given my mother a sense of safety and security. She snores in her sleep, an ironic memory of my father. She rubs beside us if we yell or cry. She paces at night until we are all asleep. She stares at us sometimes and I think she is saying why she chose us.
Now, she is so ill and has been for quite some time. She can't walk, nor see well and doesn't eat much unless hand fed. She wrestles with tremendous pain per the vet. She has wounds and scars but she will not give up.
We can't seem to let her either.
So now I am a girl that loves to carry my 50 pound dog wherever she needs to go. I lay on the floor with her so she won't feel lonely. I feed her and roll her over when she doesn't have the strength to. I am sentimental about almost everything.
Yes, life doesn't last forever and in the meantime I try not to walk too quickly.