I’ve neglected to write this post. Not because it’s not worthy of sharing. Quite the opposite, actually. These stories should be told. But, because it didn’t feel shareable. It felt like our own. A family decision. A personal journey. For each of us. And it always is. A sad day. A long goodbye. Then relief, for all of us, I hope.
I’ve got a thing about commemorating the dogs that pass through our lives. Paintings, figures, photos. Something that remains with us when they have passed. A conversation starter about them. Once they leave us, these old dogs are not to be forgotten. They become part of our story. Their chapter in our family, short or long, it’s important. And so a cute picture of an unassuming little dog. Our littlest dog actually. And our oldest. Six pounds of 20 year old Maltese appreciation.
Ford. With us longer than we anticipated he would be. A testament to the rejuvenating powers of a good diet, comfy beds, stability, and some attention. He came to us a bit of a mess. Ok, so a hot mess really. We thought our role was going to be to help him on his way, with love and support, warmth and kindess, and a full belly. It was. And it wasn’t. Turns out Ford was due a bonus round. A year+ of scampering, play bows, laying in the sunshine, lap sitting, blanket snuggling, XL dog bed occupying, barking for dinner, and generally living it up as only the ancient, tiny, and given up on can do.
Hair grew back. Appetites returned. The integration of a mostly miscellaneous pocket monster into a house already subject to too many dogs was completed quickly, unceremoniously. Suddenly you can’t imagine a life without your very own possum-rat. He completes and compliments your motley crew. Routines are modified, ever so slightly to accomodate, the tiny and infirm. Not that you notice. He fits remarkably well behind you in your desk chair or in the crook of your arm or squished next to a pug. You learn his distress signals. You marvel at his potty training manners, even at his advanced age. Sure, maybe we snicker at old man antics (at his expense) now and again. Overall though, this tiny being is here to stay. Family. Pack. Love.
But ever so slowly it slips. As quickly as its begun, you worry its coming to an end. Subtly. A cough alerting you to an enlarged heart, causing bronchial pressure leading to more coughing, even more sleeping, and slowly increased confusion. What was endearing, in a slightly lost, stumbling, oh-let-me-help-you kind of way, becomes concerning. He was just there. Is he scared when we scoop him up? Does he know who we are? What does he need? Asking all The Questions. Further modifying routines. Ford’s situation, being more cognitive than physical, it went on. Maybe too long. It’s always hard to say.
What I will say is when the call was made, he left us easily. On our laps, loved and snuggled and warm and appreciated. And immediately oh so very missed. 6lbs of dog, 600lb hole. I believe he was ready, probably before I was. I do not miss his distress. In fact, I am thankful I could ease it. I wish I’d had the courage to do it a little sooner. Yet, I’m thankful for every moment he spent in our lives. Does that make sense?
Now routines change yet again. One less dog bowl. One less voice to greet me upon my return. No old man dog to open blankets for so he can bury himself, and then open them again 5 minutes later when he is much too hot. His pain and confusion are over. Big sigh of relief. The rest of us will adjust. Even as we always remember one Whitey Ford, who came to us to end his blues singing days. So thank you, Ford. Thank you for being our dog. For being part of our family. For all the entertainment, appreciation, faith and love you gave us. We love you too.