the folly of bite-sized moments
the sound

the slow goodbye?

Hap1Happy, my black lab of 10 years, is starting to slow down.

I’m not sure what the issue is. She just had her annual checkup several days ago, and the vet who examined her said she appeared to be fine. Her eyes are cloudy and he said she is slowly going blind.

But she is no longer eating dry food and I have to coax her to eat breakfast. She seems to be losing weight and I have been trying to make her comfortable.

It’s sad.

When Bonnie, my first black lab, started to slow down, she didn’t linger long. I still remember the night she passed away which wasn’t very long after Mom died. I’m guessing there are internal issues with Happy, as there were with Bonnie, and it is starting to feel like it is going to be a slow walk to the end of her life.

I tried to coax her up on the bed last night for a cuddle; the look in her eyes as hopeful, but she ultimately decided against joining me and found somewhere else to sleep. Hap2

She is my “gentle giant”. When I went to pick up Happy from the farm where she was born, the farmer said Happy was the runt of the mother’s latest litter.  Happy’s mother, on the other hand, was monstrous. When I pulled into the farm’s driveway to see Happy when she was a puppy, Happy's mom came bounding out of the garage to see who had pulled into the driveway. When she reached my car, she was tall enough that she could put her head on the open window of my car door. Happy herself is tall enough that I don’t have to bend over to pet her.

She has never been one to be overly affectionate. She loves a good belly rub like any dog, but leave her alone and she will limit her being on the bed and simply jump down.

Lately Happy has stopped jumping up on the bed for any reason. The last time I saw her on the bed she was laying across it so she could see out of the window.

She is not a runner like Anna or the little hustler, Polly. If there is something that needs investigating, Happy might manage a short trot to the scene of the crime, but it tires her out pretty quickly. Cody likes to run but only if he’s barking at something; he’s really a tracker at heart.

Happy is sometimes nosey. She likes to jump up to investigate what I’ve had for dinner by sniffing my breath. I know – weird, but hey – she’s my girl.

I call her my “sneaker drinker” – she doesn’t like anyone to watch her drinking. If you happen to enter the kitchen when she is drinking, she immediately walks away from the water bowl.

She loves pizza, and cheese, and Pupperonis, and she loved Dairy Queen ice cream – until I bought her a Chick-fil-a vanilla shake. Now she prefers to have the shake if it’s going to be something cold. But she is becoming increasingly fussy about some of her treats, like cheese and Pupperonis. She won't eat her dry food, but she'll eat a hardshelled treat if she's in the mood. 

But right now, she’s not into much of that. She goes out. She hides in the garage until I call her in. She slowly follows me outside the gate when I walk down the driveway for the mail. A short pet and she walks slowly back up the driveway and waits for me to let her back into the house – where she hides out in the bedroom until someone comes into the room. She doesn’t seem to want to be near me – and that upsets me. But then again, who wants to be around anyone when they’re not feeling well?

I’ll make her comfortable as she wants to be. If her quality of life becomes degraded to the point she appears to be dreading another day, I’ll have to make some tough decisions. I don’t want to say goodbye to my “kids”, but I don’t want to see them suffer either.

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