In 2009, we had been living in our house for almost a year. My husband was working a lot and I found the times when I was home kind of lonely. A dog seemed like the perfect solution. I began researching and searching for dogs online. I remember casually mentioning an available puppy to my husband and he kind of shrugged me off, which I obviously took as a nod of approval.
So, over February break, I got my brother to drive with me to Long Island, where I bought not one, but two brown furry mops. After the initial shock wore off, my husband fell in love with these little guys who we named Moose and Otis. They were the first members of our family and they’ve been there for the ride ever since.
Moose and Otis are shih tzus and because of their size, they’ve always felt like puppies. Our daughters always refer to them as looking like “little boys” after a session at the groomer, when they go from overgrown eyeless creatures to clean cut puppies again. Eternal pups.
Last night, we were reminded that Moose and Otis are actually eleven years old now…senior dogs.
I was working at our kitchen table, our dogs’ beds positioned behind me, so they could be directly beside the heat vent. They like to be cozy. Moose was making his way back to his bed, when he seemed to fall over on his back and then bounce back up. “What the heck?” I said to him. I thought he was trying to scratch a hard to reach itch.
But then, he fell over again and I could tell he was not in control of his body. I jumped from my chair, ran from the room, and called for my husband. “He’s not ok!” I yelled as I threw my hands over my eyes, cowering away. Arnauld came running and immediately got down on the floor with Moose, cradling his head and stroking his back.
Later, reflecting on this moment, I found myself in tears. I had abandoned Moose in a time of distress and I felt guilty for not being able to be there for him. This was also a swift reminder, that our pups aren’t actually eternal puppies.
Today, after an afternoon at the vet, the prognosis isn’t great. But like our vet sister-in-law Molly told us last night, there might be things we can do to “make sure he’s happy until he isn’t anymore.”
When I got home from work today, I was never more relieved to see the pep in Moose’s step as he ran to guard his food bowl and bully his brother, Otis. Maybe tomorrow, he will be back to following me around and licking my leg incessantly.
Maybe we can stay focused on his puppy exterior and forget about his senior interior…just for a little while longer.