For AJ (continued)

Posted on | September 28, 2012 | 6 Comments

Because he’d had a rough start to life, AJ took a while to warm up to being part of a family.  For a long time, the only interaction he allowed me was feeding him and dragging him from under the bed to go outside for walks.  I’ll never forget taking him to my parents’ house for the first time and letting him sleep on their screened in porch.

AJ wasn’t one for playing with toys.  He mostly kept to himself as a puppy and would hide away if anyone was around.  I woke up on Saturday morning at my parents’ house and my mother called me to come down stairs.  AJ was out of his kennel, with his toy in his mouth, doing what could only be called “prancing” around the porch.

It was the first time I ever saw him truly happy and playful.

From then on, he started to warm up to being a part of my family.  When I would cry (which was often that year), he would curl up beside me, his little pink tongue sweetly tickling my cheek, reminding me it would be okay.  When I got sick (which was not as often) he would throw up on the floor beside my bed.  I joked that he was so in tune with me, that he hurt when I hurt… and it seemed to be true.

We were inseparable; he was my world and I was his.  A friend of mine watched him one day on campus when I was in class and he sat and did nothing the entire time I was gone, then bounded towards me like I was the second coming of Christ when he saw me.  He trusted me.  I was his family.

Just before law school, when he was seven years old, I came home from work to find him unable to walk without leaning against something.  His legs weren’t working, his eyes wouldn’t focus, and he was visibly scared.  There was an emergency vet just up the street from me and I picked him up and carried him as far as I could, sobbing until a friend came and drove us the rest of the way.  They told me then that I should put him to sleep.

I didn’t listen.

He was my family.

He rebounded quickly, and never had another spell.  He was the youngest old dog you’d ever met, even at thirteen jumping without hesitation onto the high bed in the master bedroom and chasing his toys around the back yard.   When J first came into his life he was suspicious and wary, but he soon grew to love him, following him around the house and protecting him from the big bad world (or from Riley when she arrived). But sometime over the past year things deteriorated for him.  He developed arthritis in his legs and took to licking holes on his back legs until they bled and then scabbed over.

And then his hearing started to go and he started to get very scared at night with the lights out.  I took to leaving lights on in the house and the door to J’s bedroom open because the bed was lower to the ground, and his aged legs could still manage the small lurch up onto the mattress.

I watch him move now and he is but a shadow of the boy he once was, aged and mottled with gray hairs and raw spots about his face and legs.  He moves purposefully and when I go to pet him, he leans the full weight of his body against me as if to say “Hold me up, Mom, just for a while.”

I ache for him.  I ache for the puppy who made my life worth living when it seemed that nothing else did.  I ache for my fiercely loyal companion who bit a crush on the shoulder when he was tickling me and I screamed “OW!”  I ache for the decision that I may have to make one day too soon, the moment I may have to lay my head beside his and mouth words of comfort he can no longer hear.

On Monday, I will take my sweet boy to the vet and ask the question I have put off asking for so long.  Because I can not be the reason AJ suffers.  Because he deserves better from me.

But I hope, oh how I hope, that my vet will reassure me that there is still more time.


6 Responses to “For AJ (continued)”

  1. Joanna
    September 28th, 2012 @ 3:59 pm

    Oh the heartache. I’m so sorry. It is devastating to go through this with a pet but you are doing the right thing. big hugs.

  2. Law Momma
    September 28th, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

    I’m holding out hope that Monday will come and my doctor will tell me I’m being foolish and that he’s totally fine.

  3. Rusti
    September 28th, 2012 @ 4:43 pm

    sending you love and hugs and prayers for AJ…

  4. kristinayellow
    September 28th, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

    My heart breaks for you. We just had to put one of our fur babies to sleep and he was “my” special boy. With health problems galore and a really rough puppyhood of abuse, we were his 4th owners in 2 years. But he loved me, and my daughter, and was the sweetest little man you’ve ever met…although with the most horrible breath you’ll ever smell (and of course, he was a lover of licking your face). It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do and I still cry, months later, when my daughter talks about how he’s playing with God in Heaven or what a good puppy he was (yes, we call even 12 yr old dogs puppies). But I know he wasn’t doing well–he was deaf, going blind, and completely unable to enjoy the majority of his time. His confusion and fear scared him and it tore at my heart and I knew I had to let him go, it was because I loved him that I made that call. It’s hard but know you will always have those memories and photos–and this is when you are truly a momma, making the hard, heartbreaking, decisions. HUGS for you and for your little fur baby.

  5. jana
    September 28th, 2012 @ 8:22 pm

    Oh, I’m sending you all my love. I pray you find peace and know when the time is right.

  6. WeeMasonMan's Mom
    October 1st, 2012 @ 11:07 pm

    Both of these posts were just heartbreaking. I hope you found good news today. You’re in my thoughts.

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