Again, The Woman Speaks
When I was a little kid, I remember a cartoon. It was a story about a boy born with a round head in a world of people with pointy heads (narrated by Ringo Starr I think). But there was one point in the cartoon when the song, Me and My Arrow came out, and a particular scene stayed with me for years.
Me and My Arrow
(it takes a few seconds to load so be patient).
I have always kept an eye out for that "greatest dog in the world." Throughout my life, I have been blessed with many a good dog, but never The Greatest Dog In The World until my first Shiba Inu came into my life. From the moment the two of us met, it was obvious that we were to be buddies for life. Over time, he became an integral part of my life to where basically we were inseparable unless we absolutely had to be. My husband would tell me that there were nights that he would just sit there, staring at the front door, waiting for me to open it.
He is not an in your face kind of dog. He always stays at a distance and watches. He was dubbed by my Guardian by some wiser folks than me because while he is not standing assertively in front of me, keeping you away, he is always at a short distance, watching you, waiting, making sure that I am safe. He curls up at the entrance to my office and watches. He rides in the car and watches. He very very seldom barks. He moves silently, almost like a ninja.
He still works as a therapy dog and has this very unique skill of being able to lie next to very ill individuals, completely still, as they just slowly move their hand through his fur. He has been mauled by children, walked next to individuals bound to wheelchairs, and entertained an entire garden group of elderly women by finding a chipmunk and merrily chasing it through their stunning garden.
He is the dog I always dreamed of having. Seldom listening to a word I say, he insisted that every morning starts with a belly rub and a good breakfast, is a strong believer in harmony with the outdoors (he has picked up plastic bottles on hikes and brought them to me), and a true believer in the idea that sometimes you just have to take a break and enjoy the sunshine.
In late May, as I have mentioned, I started noticing problems with his hind legs and over the course of the summer, a variety of tests were done, but everything was inconclusive. Friday, in an amongst a variety of other things that happened, I provided another urine sample, and I get the call while at work regarding what is going on.
"Canine Degenerative Myelopathy: The disease is chronic and progressive, and can result in lameness in the animal and eventually may lead to extensive paralysis of the back legs. The animal could be crippled within a few months, or may survive up to 3 years. . . The disease usually manifests between the ages of seven and fourteen and initially affects the back legs and causes muscle weakness and loss, and lack of coordination. . ."
He has his good days and his bad days, like anyone. This morning when I took him out for his morning constitutional his spirits were very high but two days ago, he was having difficulties just moving around the house but I am slowly starting to prepare myself on how to make "the decision" regarding what to do with my best friend since there is no cure. I just get to merely watch him lose control of his hind legs and bodily functions. When people come over, I ask them to be careful with petting his back because sometimes he loses his balance.
Right now, he is lying on his blanket right next to the heater. Curled up into a tight little ball, he looks as good as the day that he moved into my home and heart. His coat is shiny and healthy. If I get up to leave, he will follow me and lie down in the hallway, until I return back to my computer. But no more long hikes with my old friend, just fun car rides and trips to the park whenever we can. I loved how this morning he placed his head on the bed with his nose right next to my face and made a snarfling noise to remind me that it was 7 a.m. and it was time for him to be fed.
It was 7:03. He had impatiently waited three minutes.
I talk about him now because I know when the day does come, I won't be able to speak of it. I will be meditating in a manner, hoping that he finds his ancestors of years past, and is able to once more be the dignified Japanese dog that he still is.