Loving an old man dog

Maybe if I lay on it, she won’t try to put it on me again.

“You have to live forever,” I told our then-12-year old Maltese-Bijon, Goliath. “Or at least until I get done with grad school.” At the time, I lived in Phoenix while T and G held down the homestead in Sacramento. In my “free” time, I cultivated a nice little nightmare about G passing away and ruining my dissertation project. (I know, I know. Academic stress dreams are nowhere near rational.)

But lately, as he approaches centenarian status (in dog years anyway), I’ve started to actually worry about the end time. Although at 14, he’s still sprightly and playful, I’ve noticed a definite decrease in his active hours. Working from home, I’ve marked how much time he spends napping in the sun as opposed to patrolling for intruders.

One outcome of old man dogness is bonyness and loss of body fat apparently. Consequently Goliath is a shiverpuss in the mornings so I bought him his very first sweater.

And the senses? Poor dude. Eye sight? Dulled. Hearing? Muted. Spacial orientation? Limited. (I admit, it’s kind of funny when he runs into the wall on accident.) Chompers? All but gone. He’s still healthy and happy, but getting old does not seem super fun.

We are not pleased, he seems to say.

I’ve never really loved a pet of my own (apologies to Martin the tortoise, but there’s little in the way of emotional connection with a reptile). To think about saying goodbye to Goliath makes my chest feel hollow and sour. So I will continue to hope that this guy lasts forever!


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