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For the love of Dog, Chapter 8 and Final | Pamdemonium
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For the love of Dog, Chapter 8 and Final

November 25, 2010

Pilgrim woke me up this morning, on Thanksgiving, at 6:15 a.m. Since the accident and his surgery, he’s lost 10 pounds – 20 percent of his body weight, which is a good thing but means he’s mighty hungry as dawn approaches.

He’s not shy about it, vocalizing his want with increasing intensity. Shaun can sleep through it, usually. I cannot. Like most mornings, I rose, fed Pilgrim and Shadow and let them out and then let that back in. Like some mornings, I crawled back into bed.

Before Pilgrim’s mishap, this extended morning ritual involved him jumping up into the bed with us, especially in colder weather, and putting his little red head on or near my pillow. We’d nestle in a cross-species spoon for an hour or so.

It was chilly this morning, and Pilgrim wanted up. He doesn’t “say” it; he stands there and looks. So I picked him up, put him on the bed, he found his spot and settled in. He can’t jump onto the bed or even the sofas anymore; he doesn’t have the muscle strength in the back end to push off and he dangles half-on, half-off the sofa, looking sad and helpless. He won’t even try to jump on the bed.

At this very moment, Pilgrim is sprawled on the sofa behind me and Shadow is nearby on the floor. I am smiling.

I smile at our dogs a lot these days and revel in the simple joy that they are with us. When bad things happen, I try to learn from them. A car hitting Pilgrim and dismantling his pelvis on July 4th was a bad thing, deciding whether to say goodbye or spend thousands to put him back together was a difficult thing and tending to a broken, healing dog round-the-clock for two months was miserable, seemingly endless thing.

I have learned much.

Maybe we all need reminders, even if painful, to appreciate our loved ones, whether they have two legs or four, when we still have them and not take their presence in our lives for granted. Our pets are great teachers, in good times and hard times. They embody unconditional love. They teach us patience. If we let them, they teach us to slow down and take joy in the world around us. If we were so inclined, we could learn where the really bad smelling stuff is so we could roll around in it.

Those long days and nights consumed by Pilgrim care taught me valuable lessons about time and how much of it I waste. As he became stronger, I became more determined. I joined local hiking groups, planned more social outings and got back in the garden. I’ve already got three or four trips planned for the first half of 2011.

Many friends have asked us if we think we made the right decision. The answer is complicated because I don’t know if, given the circumstances, there was a wrong decision. Would I do it again? I don’t know. The surgery and the long recovery were very hard on Pilgrim and the rest of us, including Shadow.

But that damn red dog fills my days with joy, even when he is a pain in the ass. The trauma has aged an already old dog. Shadow, who is about two years older, is now on incontinence meds. I don’t know how long we’ll have them but I know I will appreciate each day, each hour and do whatever we can to keep them happy and comfortable in their dotage.

One of the hardest lessons has been learning that “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer to a tough question. And that in the moment, we make the best decision we can under difficult circumstances. For as long as they are with us, our old dogs will teach us new tricks, and for that, on this day, I give thanks.



Brian November 25, 2010 at 2:08 pm

thanks Pam.

admin November 25, 2010 at 9:53 pm

My pleasure. Thanks for being such a devoted reader.

Amber V December 2, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Yes thank you indeed! I have so enjoyed reading the love story. Your pups are lucky to have you and vise versa :)

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