Back in February, I wrote about having a party for my senior rescue dog, Pops, to celebrate his being with us for a year.
Now, we are marking our good fortune by the days.
Because, for whatever reason, despite his being the sweetest soul on this Earth, the universe has seen fit to fill his mouth and face with tumors. And while we may, God willing, have weeks, it’s looking less and less likely that we will see it to our second anniversary.
People like to say things like, “Well, when you adopted an older dog, you knew what you were getting into.” Which, to some degree is fair. You know you may have less time. You know there might be a few health issues. You know they’ll be a little slower, a little gentler, a little more tired sometimes.
That doesn’t mean you expect something like this. Or that it’s any easier to take.
It also doesn’t mean I regret it for one, single, solitary second.
See, Pops isn’t just some old dog.
He’s a small business owner, having run a very successful gyro cart in the city during his youth.
He’s a gargoyle wizard warrior with Insta-famous brows.
He digs Dean Martin and sweater vests and public broadcasting.
He’s doesn’t like cats, but finds their “leavings” delicious.
He also has a weakness for berries and bananas, but can’t stomach broccoli and won’t touch lettuce.
He prefers old movies, enjoys a nice breeze, and would walk in the woods until his black-and-gray bowlegs buckled under him, if allowed.
He’s never seen a large shrub or patch of tall grass that he didn’t barrel through like a tank.
His foolproof, snuffle-and-snort forensic clue-reading technique is currently being studied by CSI crews.
He loves being covered in leaves (and sticks, and grass, and burrs).
He is kind, infinitely curious, tells a great knock-knock joke, and has the patience of a saint when it comes to his little brother Moo’s nonsense.
He looks scary, but isn’t. Never goes hungry, but always is anyway.
He is not just some old dog.
He is Pops. He is one of a kind.
He is my baby and the very best of friends.
When you adopt an older dog, people also like to say things like, “He’s so lucky to have you,” which, again, largely misses the point.
I mean, sure, he may have hit the lottery when it comes to dog-spoiling mommies. I do have a tendency to be pretty free with the treats.
But the one who really lucked out was me. Hands down, without a doubt, he’s given me more than I can ever repay.
So no goodbyes for now. This is the time to be grateful, not sad.
And I intend to spend however long we have left telling him, “Thank you.”
(Also, “Drop that cat poop!”)
Katie McDowell is a copy editor/lifestyles writer/crying right now. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.