My friend is fading away. How hard that is on the heart.Our sweet and beautiful Abby is growing old before our eyes. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised about that as she will be fourteen years old this fall, but right up to the beginning of this year she has been a puppy.
She never got the old face like some dogs …no white whiskers and milky eyes for her. No lethargy and laziness. She was ever enthusiastic with her greetings … always with a little skip and a wag. She woke us up in the morning by bumping around the perimeter of our bed, which felt more like an elephant was trying to shake us awake. When she wanted attention, she would come up and hook my leg with one of her paws or bump me with her whole body. When we went outside together, even at thirteen years old, she would have such exuberance – so pleased that there was an adventure awaiting somewhere.
She’s been stone deaf for a year, so our dancing days have been over for awhile. She particularly loved accordion music & when I’d have a Newfoundland CD on, she would come up & hit my feet with her paws and we’d dance together. I’ll never forget the time we had a NL party here & had ‘Mummers’ arrive. There were five or six of us, dressed up so people didn’t know who we were. When we entered the kitchen and the CD went on, Abby instantly picked me out of the group, hit my feet and started dancing. She could be sound asleep and hear a bicycle coming a quarter mile away and be up on her feet to check it out long before it arrived. The deafness hasn’t affected her much though and we forget about that and talk to her like she can hear.
It’s been shocking how the weight has dropped off her. She’s been a big dog – never fat but substantial for an Airedale. She’s lost half her body mass since January and we work at finding things that she will eat. She’s done with dog food. I’ve tried every kind and every brand. I tricked her for awhile by topping it with grated cheese or melted butter or vanilla ice cream; she’s not falling for that anymore. It must bother her stomach. She’ll eat eggs and cheese and ice cream and the occasional bite of something else but precious little.
She still goes with me from room to room and lays at the doorway when I go up to my studio. She still made the trip to the cabin with me and laid on the porch, but she walked back on the bridge rather than galloping through the water like she always has. Last night, she didn’t come out to greet the car when I drove in. It was strange to walk to the house alone. And she didn’t come upstairs with me when I went to bed. She stood at the bottom of the step, looked up at me and thought about it. Then she turned and went back to the kitchen. She always waits until I get up to come down and walks every step beside me. Lately she’s been slow and walk every step beside her, in case she were to get weak or dizzy. It was sad this morning, when her bed was empty and I walked down the stairs alone … shades of days to come.
She has slowed down substantially but she does not seem to be in pain or discomfort, just frail. She’s serious now rather than playful. A dozen times a day she comes and stands beside me, puts her head in my lap and looks at me with those beautiful big brown eyes. We both know her days with us our numbered, and yes indeed – that is hard on the heart.