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Sunday Is Coming Too Soon

September 5, 2018
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Cecilia helps clean the cat dishes

I’m posting this Wednesday night. In a little more than three days, my wife and I will say goodbye to our 16-year old beagle, Cecilia. Her health has been declining for some time, and although we would love more time with her, we know she is in pain and not living a great life with her arthritis. The medicine and acupuncture we’ve been using to treat it no longer offer her the relief they once did. She also has Cushing’s disease, and a heart murmur. She has fought the good fight to eat as many treats as she could wrangle and charm from you.

When we first adopted Cecilia, she was already seven or eight years old. She walked into our house as if she’d lived there for years, and made herself right at home. Never the most affectionate dog – Cecilia never learned to give kisses –  she mostly warmed up to you at meal time. Still, she would occasionally jump up on the couch, not to make herself comfortable, but to wander over to me, climb on my lap, and lean against me. It was her way of giving a hug. Because of her arthritis, she hasn’t been able to do that for a couple years.

Another trick Cecilia can no longer do is one her former owners must have taught her. Whenever she wanted a treat, she would stand on her hind legs, put her front paws together, and wave them at you. As a beagle, she always wanted a treat. If she could not coax one from you, she would take any opportunity to sneak off and try to help herself to the cats’ food.

A few years ago, my wife and I used a baby gate to block off the family room from the kitchen and the rest of our house, to keep Cecilia corralled when we would leave to run errands. One day, we came home to find Cecilia standing on the kitchen side of the gate, instead of the family room. As best we could figure, she jumped up on the couch in the family room, jumped from there to the recliner, jumped up on the back of the recliner, launched herself from there onto the counter in the kitchen, and then jumped down from the counter onto the kitchen floor. That last move proved a bit too much for her, as she tore her ACL. Still, she dragged herself to the back of the house, ate the cat food from the dishes on the floor, then dragged herself back to the kitchen which is where we found her when we came home. After a $2,500 surgery, her ACL was back to normal.

Like most dogs, Cecilia loved her walks, and always insisted she be allowed to go, even when it was too painful and tiring for her to do so. We bought a baby stroller to push her around in, and she insisted on standing up in it the entire time we were walking.

Last winter was rough on Cecilia, and I remember wondering if she would be able to make it through the bitter cold and snow. Finally, the weather warmed and her ability to move up and down her ramp improved. But in the past couple weeks she’s struggled to both stand up and lay down, and I know another winter would be a punishment to her. We’ve made arrangements to have a vet we know come to the house on Sunday, when we will help her cross the rainbow bridge.

I need so much more time with her.

 

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