It was a little after 5 a.m. when I heard the irregular breathing. It wasn’t the usual window-rattling snore that I was used to hearing. I listened. “She’s seizing!” That same motivation that launches us as parents out of a deep sleep, into full fire drill mode, was engaged. Quickly, my husband moved her from the bed onto the bathroom floor. I went to fetch the anti-seizure medicine.
It’s hard seeing our loved ones age. My dogs are 9 and 11, old ladies for French Bulldogs. Brin was our first Frenchie. Our previous dog had died a week. As a working mom of three, I felt there was every reason to wait, probably months, before getting a dog. I just didn’t have the time or energy to “puppy”. My resolution lasted 7 days. We drove 90 minutes, to the middle of nowhere, at night, to find our next love, Brin. My youngest picked her because she was the runt of the litter, just over 3 pounds. We creatively named her Brin. Her coat was brindle and white.
Almost a year later, Zoe joined the family. You could not imagine two more polar opposites within the same dog breed. Brin remained a runt, below standard size for her breed. Zoe was nearly 50% above breed standards. Not fat, just big. And lovable and full of life. Brin was reserved, more intelligent, and crafty.
Brin has hardly any appetite now. My husband schemes each day to find some new way to entice her to eat. Brin has congestive heart failure. She has a few playful, interactive moments each day, but they are just moments.
Zoe continues to be a chow hound. She needs daily meds to prevent her seizures. Some days, when my joints ache, so do hers. Zoe’s joints stiffen if she stays still too long. When she rises, she has to do an elaborate series of stretches, punctuated with moans. A few doses of Rimadyl later, she’s once again bullying the ducks who wander into the yard.
My aging dogs have taught me a lot. Simple things, like never miss a chance to snuggle on the couch with someone you love. Enjoy some treats each day. Play when you can. Never pass up a patch of sun. It’s a little piece of heaven.
But I’m most surprised in what I’ve learned about my husband. As the dogs have aged, he’s shown such tenderness towards them. He’s very protective of them. He installed a ramp on the deck, lighted, so the dogs wouldn’t stumble at night or be afraid. Their sight and hearing are not what they used to be.
The last few years have been filled with health challenges for me. But I’m so lucky to have someone who will lift me up gently, sit with me on the couch, and be there…as we age.