Dearest Rachel –
I wonder if, while you’re greeting old friends and family you haven’t seen in years – to say nothing of the many dogs you grew up with and grew up with you – how much opportunity you have to look in on those of us you have left behind. Especially since Chompers has been getting demonstrably older even before you left us, I would think you might be wondering about him at this point: “Shouldn’t he be right behind me…?”
Well, Daniel and I are doing our level best to keep him going for now. We sort of assume this is what you would have wanted, heartaches and headaches be darned.
In fact, for the better part of a week, we thought we were in a right proper rhythm with him, as he’d been sleeping the whole night through, from 11pm to 8am, give or take. But then, the last couple of nights, he’s woken up whining and whimpering somewhere between 5 and 6 in the morning. It’s not intolerable, mind you, but it seemed to be a step backward.
So this morning around 6:30, I hear a slight sound coming from his side of the bedroom (yes, I can tune out the hum of the computers and the whirr of the space heater to focus on the noises he makes – I hope you’re proud of me for figuring this talent out in less than a month), and, not really wanting to get up just yet, I listen closer to see if he continues.
But the sound is different.
Oh, my goodness, he’s dreaming.
You remember how, when he was sleeping most comfortably, would start up on this muffled sort of barking noise. More often than not, he would even be moving his legs as if he were running. Daniel would usually go “Aww..” when he noticed, and we would all speculate as to what he might be dreaming of chasing. Maybe a rabbit, or – given that the cairn terrier was bred to be a ratter – some type of rodent.
As much as it breaks my heart to think it, I wonder now if he sees you in his dream, and is running happily to you. I’m fairly certain he knows you’re gone – I mean, the friendbeast and the boy are both acting so much less aloof than they used to, and I never see Mistress around anymore. He’s no canine Einstein, but he’s got to have figured it out by now.
So maybe he’s envisioning that day when he’s crossed the rainbow bridge himself, and sees you in the distance. And despite the fact that you were his fourth owner in his fourteen or fifteen years, you were the one that truly loved him, and he knows and loves you in turn for it. So, when he sees you, he comes running, barking in joy.
It almost seems cruel of Daniel and I to work so hard to stave off that day for him.
Since you left, I’ve been to the vet twice; once with him, and once without. He’s taking five different medications: two at every meal, one other at breakfast, one at dinner and one (due to its alleged side effect of ‘extreme sedation’ – I think they’re overselling it, frankly) an hour or so before bedtime. I’ve also been keeping up with his hip & joint and skin & coat treats, and – while I’ve been unable to find any cranberry pills for his bladder – I’ve even gotten him a calming treat made with hemp oil (yes, I know what Robin Williams said about getting your pet stoned – starting at about 4:30 – I also know Twofeathers swears by the stuff, and who am I to contradict a nurse?) to take his bedtime pill with. I’m gonna try to keep him around as long as possible… because that’s what you would have done.
That first week or two was really difficult, honey. You left so few instructions, because you – quite reasonably – thought you would outlast him. Now, we’re left trying to figure out what he needs and wants, and give him the former while doing what we can with the latter (I mean, we’re not about to feed him umpty-million times a day, no matter how much he’d love that – but you know, the fact that he still eats, and eats greedily, just shows he hasn’t given up on life, so we have no right to give up on him).
But we’re slowly figuring him out. Maybe we’ll solve him just as the vet determines he’s too far gone, or maybe he’ll outlast the snow, and we can get him that wheelchair, so he can actually go out and exercise a bit yet. I don’t know.
But if we have to wait to see you again, so can he.
Still… if you want to visit us in our dreams, I wouldn’t mind. And I’m sure he wouldn’t, either.
Until next time, honey.