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Right Ho, Jeeves

I'm very sad today. My dog Jeeves is nearing the end of his life.

It's not a huge tragedy, and it's not unexpected. He's very old for his breed, and he had been slowly declining for quite some time. He has been totally blind for over a year, and arthritis and simple old age have stolen his mobility bit by bit. But as late as last week he was still able to climb the stairs to our bedroom at night, or be led down the porch steps for a short turn on the grass. And he still had his legendary saluki appetite.

He stopped eating last Thursday. He would still accept small treats and sips of water, but nothing more. Yesterday he had some sort of seizure, or perhaps a stroke. He was flailing, and crying, and bit his tongue, so there was blood everywhere. I held onto him so he wouldn't bash his head on the wood floor. A long seizure, ten minutes or more, followed by two shorter ones within a half hour. He's been quiet and calm since then, but now he cannot walk at all.

He doesn't seem to be in pain or distress. If he were I'd have made that call I always hate to make, that I always make too late and then berate myself. He has been sleeping since 2 AM, not really responsive to me or anything else. His breathing is shallow and slow. I am just hoping he can slip away quietly. I am afraid it would distress him to have a stranger come into the house.

He's had a long, full, mostly happy life. He was born in Michigan, and lived in Indiana, Minnesota, Alaska, and Maryland. He's chased everything from plastic bunnies to whitetail deer, in cornfields and ball fields and on tidal flats in an abandoned Gold Rush town. In his prime he was an astonishing athlete --a four legged running machine with a double suspension gallop and a goofy grin. Most dogs are content to roll on a dead possum or raccoon. Jeeves once got to roll on a dead wild Alaskan salmon that had jumped out of a glacial river. He subsequently got bathed with laundry detergent in the same river.

Jeeves's passing is like the passing of an entire -- more than a chapter of my life, it's like the second volume of the trilogy. Anne was two when we brought him home, a ten week old puppy with gigantic feet and ears like windmill sails. Now she's applying to high schools. John and I have been married for 16 years, and Jeeves has been sleeping in our bed for 12 of them.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 30th, 2008 05:14 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry. He's a beautiful dog, and it sounds like he had a wonderful life.
Sep. 30th, 2008 07:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks. He actually seems a bit better today. I'm not looking for miracles or anything, but he did manage to lever himself up on the couch and eat a couple of bites of lamburger. He looks a little more comfortable, and that's all I care about right now.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )