This is Leo. He’s eleven years old and very much feeling his age. He has arthritis so bad that you can hear his hips cracking and popping when he walks. He only has three legs, so when you throw in the fact that we have hardwood floors the poor guy moves at a pretty tortoiselike pace. The other day he lost his balance and fell off the porch into the gladiolas (he was fine). Yesterday evening he fell out of the front door and face planted into the concrete porch (again, he was fine). He has horrible skin allergies that make him greasy and stinky. I have to lift him in and out of the bathtub when it’s time for a wash. Leo can’t stay in the same room with my other dog, Porkchop, because they are both extremely territorial. He’s going deaf, so he randomly barks at the cats when they walk through his room and scare him. Or, we think sometimes he’s barking at his own foot. He’s old; he’s allowed to do that.
Recently, Leo had to have surgery. He’s at that point in his life where he’s covered in tumors. Most of them really don’t bother him, but he developed one that was hanging off his lip. The vet determined he was healthy enough to undergo surgery and removed the one from his lip, one by his ear, and one from his leg while I waited. Half an hour and several hundred dollars later I hefted all 54 pounds of him into the back of my Subaru and headed home.
I had to give him his antibiotic every day (as well as his allergy pill and arthritis medicine), wrapped in a slice of American cheese. I checked over his stitches on a constant basis to make sure he wasn’t picking them open. I ran to PetCo and got him this super cool (and expensive) collar to help keep him from scratching at his wounds, and apparently to humiliate him. I once woke up in the middle of the night with this panicky feeling that I just had to check on him (once more, he was fine). In short, I fussed.
Are you exhausted yet? Cause I’m pretty worn out just thinking about it, and I live it. I absolutely adore my animals, but I’ll still admit that they wear me out sometimes.
But you know what? I’m not going to give them up. I’m not going to dump Leo off at some shelter and tell them I “just can’t take care of him anymore.” He might take up lot of my time, but he needs us. He needs to have my youngest daughter curl up in his bed with him even though he stinks. He needs to know that once the kids have gone to bed, I’ll let his grumpy butt come into the living room and lay in front of the couch while I watch reruns of Doctor Who (he’s not allowed on the couch for safety purposes; see above notes about falling all the time). He needs someone to tell him he’s a good boy just for being there, and to give him a treat just because.
He wouldn’t get that in a shelter. We have some great shelters here in Southern Illinois, and they do their best, but there just isn’t enough time for all that. How could there be?
So if you’re one of those people that “just can’t handle” your dog when he gets old, don’t be surprised if I tell you just what I think about you.
He’s been part of your family since puppyhood. He’s guarded your house, laid his head on your lap when you were sad, and been a playmate to your children. He not only needs love, but deserves it.