We noticed as soon as we got home that her breathing was getting more labored when she ran up a hill. She is panting now for much of the day. And although yesterday she ate seconds at breakfast and dinner, when she woke up today she went on a hunger strike. And when Kerry drove her out to the join the gents for the morning constitutional, she said quite firmly that she would prefer not to.
And then the good news: when she came home from the walk, she ran to the door to my studio and asked to be let up. It's a steep walk up many stairs, but she wanted to be up there on her post on the balcony watching the river flow by. She still seeks solace in nature, and in stillness. And whenever anyone walks up to her and she's awake, she wags her tail.
We think it's time to think about palliative care. Doggy hospice. I don't want to leave the house or do anything other than sit by her side on the grass when she's awake. But even then, I don't want to overdo it. Sometimes another's intense love is a burden, isn't it? She's such a brave, resilient, strong-willed dog, and I don't want her to be afraid to go because she thinks it's her job to look after me, her person. Kerry and I will have to make her as comfortable as we can and then let go.
It's been a year since I came back from India and noticed that she was limping. A year of long walks along the river through summer grass and fall leaves and snow and ice and trillium and now more summer grass. A year of morning meditations on the balcony, of romps through the backyard, lovely get-togethers with friends, and the writing of countless dogcentric mini-essays, journal entries, blog posts.
Yesterday Zoe and I sat together for a long time on the balcony at first light. We saw a doe run to the river to drink water and cross over to the other side. Today the groundhog babies did a kind of shuffle across the lawn, not concerned at all that we were above them looking down on their shiny brown heads. And now as I write the wind rocks the maple tree at my window, keeping Zoe cool as she rests in the grass.
I look out the window and she looks back up at me, entirely herself, queenly and cuddly at once. And so I'll end here because she's awake and I want to sit beside her for a few minutes on the cool grass and enjoy hearing what she has to say while I still can.