Lately my favorite part of the day is early in the morning. (Super early. We won't even say how early, but it might start with a three. We can't really think about it.)
I go out in the living room, start the coffee, feed the cats, and then go to the couch and pick up 18-year old Harriet. She can't hear that much anymore, but I think she feels the vibration of my feet puttering around, and she's usually poking her nose up, waiting for me, by the time I get to her.
I carry her like a baby (something she used to hate), and take her outside, across the back porch, down the steps, and set her down on the concrete. She wobbles a bit, and I hold her back end up, scritching at the same time. She thinks about it for a while, and then pees. If I'm not right there, she wanders off and gets lost under the porch, so I stand and wait while she gets it done.
Then she follows me slowly up the stairs and into the kitchen. She walks with me through the house, but usually ends up on her cushion or back on the couch for another nap while I write and shower.
At least a couple of times a week, we think she's dead. Does this sound callous? Like I don't care? I do. We do. We care SO much, but while we're not ready for her to go, we're very conscious of the time we have. And when you find her on the couch, completely still, no rising or falling of the chest, you wonder.
The other morning I actually thought it had happened. I touched her. She was stiff. No motion. She felt cold. I started to well up. Then she puffed and snuffled up her head and I sat back on my ass in happy surprise.
It's the sweetest time right now. While time is running out (what time isn't?), it's nice to know that she's healthy, and happy (when she's not grumpy), and in no pain. And everything she does is the cutest thing we've ever seen. Today when I got home, she ran around like the house like a maniac and grinned from ear to ear when I got out her food. IT WAS THE CUTEST THING. I was so sad I hadn't videoed it, and it was just running around.
Harriet is the dog of Lala's heart, but having lived with her for more than three years now, I can honestly say my step-dog Harriet is the best dog ever (don't tell Clara or Miss Idaho, who are obviously close runners-up). It's good to have this time (WHICH COULD GO ON A LOT LONGER, YOU HEAR THAT, UNIVERSE?) to appreciate her.
Now, go give an animal a pet. I have to take Ol' Groany outside again.
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