Today was a rough day. I found out that my dog has two cancerous tumors near her internal organs, one 2" x 2" and the other 1" x 1". She is 13 and a half years old and has been with me since she was 9 weeks.
I'm having a hard time adjusting. What she is dying of is old age, but I was certain I had a couple more years -- that she'd outlive every expectation. That's the kind of dog she's always been. She has to wear a diaper now, but she wears it with a gusto and not even the smallest glimmer of shame.
Mary the Dog has been with me for most of my adult life. I'm honestly closer to her than any other living thing. She has slept pressed up against me for more than 4000 nights. There will be a gap next to me when she's gone.
I've long thought about the intimate relationship we have with our animals. I've held her poop in my hand thousands of times. This is not something I will likely ever say about another human being. I've grown to feel comforted by the sound of her snoring into my ear. She cuddled me through a chronic illness thirteen years ago; now I will cuddle her through hers.
Mary the Dog has been going deaf for the last several years. When I discovered this, I would sing directly into her ear. I don't think she hears me anymore, but I still do this at night, coo and sing into her ear, "Mary was a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb..."
She's still happy. I know that she will take her joy with her to the very very end.
When I got her, Mary was a reject at the puppy rescue. I arrived late on adoption day, and she was the last dog that nobody had wanted to adopt. None of her first vets had any clue what she was. Her ears were floppy. Her hair was tufty. She was a mystery breed. She grew into something marvelous.