Geriatric Dogs

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Ironically I wrote about puppies yesterday.

I don’t suppose the post sat online more than an hour or so before I received the phone call.

“Mag’s not doing well. I’m taking him in this evening to put ‘em down. Tell Peder if he wants to say ‘goodbye’ he’ll need to do it today.”

My stomach turned.

Magnum, the beautiful golden lab, lived next door for the past eleven years.

He was the kind of dog that I was sure would live forever. Bouncy. Friendly. Totally without guile.

All summer, he’d lie in the sun, tail thumping whenever anyone approached. If he knew you, he’d stand and swagger closer.

“I think he had a stroke last night,” Doug (our dear neighbor, and Mag’s owner) continued, “He can’t stand up anymore. He’s in his kennel.”

I knew Mag shouldn’t spend his last day alone so Peder and I trudged next door and carefully retrieved our old friend.

Peder gingerly carried him into our kitchen. “He feels like a huge bag of rice.”

Yeah. He did. Totally without muscle tone. Except for that tail. After we got him into the living room and rested him on top of a soft cushion in front of the corn stove, Mag struggled to lift his head as if to thank us for getting him someplace warm. His tail thumped softly on the area rug.

Broke my heart.

Maggie lay in that one spot all afternoon as Peder quietly read “Eldest” on the couch nearby.

I checked on the two of them throughout the afternoon. Neither moved, the young man watching his geriatric, skeletal weakly thump his tail while studying the boy’s face as only an elder dog can.

Later, Doug retrieved his old friend. “I’m feeding him steak tonight,” he said.

Still the pain lingered. It finally sunk in that we were about to lose a long-time neighbor and dear friend.

But Magnum will not be forgotten. Not as long as he lingers in our memories.

And that’s exactly what we writers do. We capture memories, wrap them in beautiful verbal packages, and ensure the gentle souls who pass through our lives will endure forever.

And that’s exactly what I’m doing today.

May Magnum enjoy his new tromping grounds. I know he made third street just a little better.

Talk later,

Beth

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