Saturday, February 14, 2009

For The Love Of A Dog

Today seems an appropriate one to explain a bit about my relationship with Bacchus. Though we've always had strong relationships with our dogs, the one Bacchus and I have is probably due to timing and circumstance.

We had him for about a week when I got word my Mom was terminal - maybe a couple of weeks at most. Hub had business trips scheduled so we decided I'd take the puppy and drive to North Carolina from Rochester. The plan was I'd stay as long as necessary.

The irony did not escape me that I was going to introduce a new life to her as she was losing hers. It was a bittersweet thought; one not to be fulfilled. Mom didn't make it through that first day. So there we were, Bacchus and me. We stayed a month taking care of everything that has to be done to close out a life. Funeral arrangements, estate sale, getting the house ready and putting it on the market. The two of us together. At night, when exhausted, he'd snuggle up with me and give me the comfort I sorely needed. We formed a very special bond.

You might think a puppy would be a handful under such circumstances but he was incredibly good. He seemed to sense it was the prudent thing to do. He played puppy more to bedevil the neighbors who were helping out then to aggravate me. He never did. He literally house broke himself; slept through the nights without being in his crate and was always ready with an antic to give me a laugh when I needed one most.

Things normalized when we got home and he quickly trained his people to do his bidding. We did so happily. The next lengthy period of time he and I had together was when we moved from Rochester to Coeur d'Alene. Hub was staying behind to supervise the packing and do the final clean up while Bacchus and I drove here to close on the house and have things ready for the arrival of the trucks. That drive across the country was another special time. We weren't in any big hurry. We detoured through Yellowstone where he learned firsthand about bison and bears and elk. He barked his enthusiastic greeting to all of them. The only ones who paid any attention were the bear cubs who guessed he probably wanted to play. Sorry kid, bad idea.

Once settled, we began our morning walks. It was our doofing time. He enjoyed snuffling anything and everything along the roads and I'd let my mind wander anywhere it wanted to go. A couple of miles. Every morning. If the neighbors were out we'd stop and visit. Soon everyone from the school bus driver to the county workers starting out on their morning schedules from the truck yard at the end of the street to people commuting down the road became hand waving friends. Everyone knew the Saint Bernard and the lady with the pink pick up bags!

When I began blogging, the premise was writing about my thoughts while on those walks. And so it has been for the past nine years. We haven't a lot of time left on this journey through life together. It hit me so hard because it was so unexpected, even at his age. Much the same as it was with my Mom. What had been an upset stomach turned into a recurrence of colon cancer that had metastasized to her liver. No one saw it coming. Her caregivers, who were the best, were dumbfounded. The parallels are uncanny.

We've been so fortunate to have superbly gifted and caring veterinarians looking after his well being. We've got the meds pretty well sorted out and figured out the eating problem so he's back on his food. Next Friday he goes back to Washington State to have a heart monitor placed under his skin so we can better determine just how well his heart is doing.

It's what one does for a family member. It's interesting. So many people equate pets as substitute children. We never have. We chose not to have children. We always wanted dogs. Four Saints and two mutts over 40 years. They have all been beloved, wanted pets; not substitutes for anything.

I'll no doubt write about our adventures on occasion but regular updates seem to be a bit ghoulish. Yesterday, all of us being struck with cabin fever, we decided to pile in the van and go for a ride - to Missoula to do some shopping. Bacchus got his two hamburger lunch and a ride which he loves. He's a dog. We're going to let him enjoy being just that as long as he himself is enjoying it.

It just seems the right thing to do for the big ole guy who has given us, and especially me, so much, so many times.


Sylvia K said...

They are the greatest source of love and of comfort that there is and I would be lost without Sam. At the same time you have to prepare for the fact that you're probably going to out live them -- although sometimes I not too sure about me. Love him, enjoy him as long as you can.

June Saville said...

What a lovely story of deep love. Thanks for sharing ...
June in Oz

Margie's Musings said...

Dogs really are great company. The trouble is we outlive them. Slinky is 12 and Shar Peis don't live long.

Anonymous said...

You scared me! I saw the heading of todays blog and my heart turned over. I had to race to the end (before reading the begining) to get my heart back to normal. Baby Bacchus was adorable as is big Bacchus. And as I said the other day, his joy in his life is his gift to you. I don't think writing about him is ghoulish at all. It is an outward example of your love for your dog. CU

Word Tosser said...

Bravo on such a great post about love.... Love of Bacchus, love of Bacchus for you...
thank you for sharing.

Linda said...

This is a wonderful post. So full of love. I never tire of reading about Bacchus and hope you will continue to write about him to the end. Now that I've gotten to know him I want to be a part of whatever happens.

When we got our little dog two years ago I thought long and hard about whether I would outlive him. I didn't want to die and leave him to someone else, that I might not even know.
Would he interfere with me going to an assisted living residence should that be necessary? On and on I went.

I elected to adopt and older dog that I thought I would surely outlive. It's been a wonderful experience for both of us. I needed him and he needed me.

Keep writing about Bacchus.

MarmiteToasty said...

What a sad but also very beautiful post.... fanks for sharing, I have tears in my eyes....


EyeOn said...

Absolutely beautiful.