Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

The Dog Park

There is a really neat dog park near us. 25 acres of dense woods with groomed walking trails, a large open field for playing a good game of fetch, and lots of waste stations to make any necessary deposits. A few years ago Dean and I would go take the dogs to the park almost every morning. The dogs loved the park. I am not ashamed to brag a bit, and say our dogs were always among the most well behaved dogs there. I don't remember when we stopped going to the park, or why, but we did. At some point it was no longer part of our daily routine. I feel a bit guilty for that.

Tonight I decided to take Dudley back to the park he loved so much. He's 10 years old now. A gentleman. As we walked in among all the other dogs greeting this new guy, he walked right past them. Not about to be impolite, he let them sniff as he walked by. But he was with his mom, and his mom was walking. A tear silently running down her face, she was walking.

Dudley remembered the park. I could feel him remembering places as he sniffed here and there. Only twice did he leave his mark because mostly he was intent on being by my side. Occasionally someone would meet us on the trail, their dog running ahead to say hello to Dudley, but he just kept walking. Ignoring the dogs. Ignoring the people. Never giving anyone a second look except for one handsome young couple, the young man in particular. There was something about him that Dudley recognized or was alerting to. "Funny." I said. "He hasn't said hello to anyone here tonight, but he is intent on greeting you."

"Oh, probably because I have treats!" the young man said.

I watched my boy. I listened to his silent thoughts.

"No. He didn't indicate you have treats, and he doesn't care about them. He's trying to tell you something you probably don't know yet. If there is something you need confirmation about, he just gave it to you."

I wanted to say, "Maybe you have cancer! He told me I did. He loved me through it. Maybe you just made a big decision and he's telling you its ok. Maybe you have a baby on the way and he's telling you now. Maybe...."

But the young couple probably already thought I was nuts so I held my tongue and left them to wonder about the crazy lady with the tears in her eyes.

And we kept walking.

We hadn't gone half way around the park when I noticed Dudley had slowed down quite a bit. Already tired. Even though I had released him when we entered the park he still stayed in perfect heel position, his big furry, bear-like feet matching steps with mine. I slowed my steps, savoring our time together.

When we made it back to the gate I broke the rules, letting Dudley through the double fence off-leash. He never left my side as we walked to the van, waiting patiently for me to open the door before hopping in.

And then Dudley did a very odd thing. As we pulled out of the parking lot he turned backward in the seat, watching the dog park as we drove away. He stayed there the entire drive home. Watching the world behind him, as if to get one last look. I have no doubt that he knows tomorrow is goodbye forever.

Tomorrow is Goodbye

Tomorrow is goodbye and I'm having a very rough time with it.

Tomorrow we will say goodbye to our dear companion Dudley. How wrong it feels to schedule an appointment for such a thing.

Two and a half months ago Dudley was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma of the spleen. At the time the vet said he had only a couple of weeks left, only two days later he rebounded. Now he is running around here like nothing is wrong, acting perfectly fine. Not acting sick. He does have a day here and there where he seems to be going downhill, only to bounc back; a classic progression of the disease.

But Dudley is of Golden Retriever blood, and they are super stoic dogs. Like his mom before him, Dudley won't admit that he is sick and will just keep going and going like all is well in his world. Until I leave. Dudley is my caretaker. He stayed by my side through many things over the years. He alerted us to Angela's seizures and to Audrey falling out of her bed. He loved Axel through his days in the halo. To keep him out of mischief we used to kennel him whenever we left. Then one day, a few years ago, he chewed, pushed and clawed his way out of a heavy metal wire crate. We bought a new one and he did it again. We thought he had developed separation anxiety, but, looking back, I think Dudley knew I was sick before I did. His anxiety started about the same time cancer started growing in me. Dudley stayed by my side through chemo, and one day was licking my bad head as if to say, "Its ok Mom. It will come back. I would share mine with you if I could."

About the same time Dudley was diagnosed with cancer, there was a mysterious problem in our house and we couldn't figure out which of the dogs was doing it. Whenever we would leave either Dudley or Zuri was peeing on the kids beds. Never ours, only the kids. We just closed the bedroom doors and that solved the problem. Unfortunately there were times we forgot to close the doors, which meant spending money on a new mattress. Again. A couple weeks ago we noticed Dudley's anxiety as I'm getting ready to leave is through the roof. He does not like to be alone anymore. He wants to be by my side every moment of every day. And I love having him by my side, it just does not work when I'm going to the store or other errands.  A few weeks ago I told him we were moving, and that its ok to let go if he didn't want to go with us to the new house.

Then, on the 4th of July we came home after fireworks to find Dudley had tried to chew through one of the brand new bedroom doors in his attempt to get to the bed. He didn't just chew through the door, but also the frame and trim. And then, at some point, he found the basement door open and a bed there. Only when we discovered it we also discovered that he was peeing blood.

It is time.

My poor Dudley.  So gentle. So patient. So soft. When I look in your eyes I see a person there. A person who understands everything there is about me. I love you buddy, so very very much. I know you don't like feeling afraid or worried when I'm away. I want you by my side for always and forever. But your mom Rubee is waiting for you.  Can you hear her? Can you already see her, with her slow, low, tail wag, waiting to play with her son again?