I have a dog and his name is Artie. Since August of ’05 he’s been the only constant in my life. Truth be told, he came into my life as, of all things, an exercise in motherhood. You see, at the time I was newly married & had just purchased a real honest-to-goodness gown-up house. (Fun Fact: You will never see me refer to it as a “home”, because it never really was.) On paper it made sense that bringing a child into the mix was the next logical step! Needless to say, I was talked out of that idea and talked into the prospect of getting a dog. Why? Theoretically, if I was capable of keeping a puppy alive and raising it to be a well-adjusted dog then I would be (for lack of a better word) allowed to procreate. In hindsight it is a better thing that the canine was chosen over a real human child. However, as I write this there are tears streaming down my face and it really is “kicking up my shit” in more ways than I thought it would.
Anyway…so from the moment I saw him I knew that he was destined to be mine. In a crate a pack of little 8 week old pups were nestled up with their mother all except for one. A teeny tiny white ball of fluff with black markings that resemble a heart and a Batman mask was in the back, all alone, just minding his own business. He was an outsider, just like me. He didn’t even look like the others in the crate. I still get shivers thinking of how I felt the moment he looked up and locked eyes with me. At that moment he ran up to the door of the crate and made the cutest little series of squeaks and squawks. At that moment I knew that I needed him in my life.
The drive from Ocala to Jacksonville was spent with me in the back of the car with my little 1.25 lb bundle of cuddly awesomeness. I didn’t want him to remain in a crate any longer and I held him in my arms the entire two hour drive. When it was time for him to be sequestered for the evening I would lay down on the floor in front of the Plexiglas baby gate that I had purchased because I didn’t want him to ever be alone. I didn’t want him to be scared because he was in a new place.
Jump ahead nearly 8 years and my life has changed completely. I’m now living in an apartment in Maryland with Artie & his pet cat Zooey. The marriage ended a long time ago and the house has recently been sold. That portion of my story has ended, but Artie remains. Since I’ve started my new life, I’ve been traveling quite a bit and he does travel with me from time to time. When I do go somewhere without him I refuse to board him. I still do not want him to be scared and stay in an unusual place all alone. I know how that feels and I don’t want to inflict that kind of fear on another (human or animal). I’ve even gotten a cartoon version of him tattooed on a part of my body where he snuggles up close to me each night. Now I’m not one of those people who refer to their pet as their “baby”. He’s a dog. He’s my pet. He’s my companion. He’s not a real boy.
That said it’s been recently brought to my attention that, physically, he’s not as well as one would think. After bringing him in for a simple physical and teeth cleaning a stone in his bladder was discovered. I was completely stunned since his demeanor hasn’t changed at all in his 8 years of life. He hasn’t been sick, lethargic, crying in agony and he’s been eating & drinking like his usual self. After a month of a special diet & meds his condition hasn’t changed at all. Actually, that’s not true. The stone hasn’t moved or changed in size any, but he has lost nearly ½ lb which is a big deal considering that last month he was a 6 lb Chihuahua. So now I have big decisions to make. Do I put him through surgery? Do I keep him on his current diet & watch him closely for changes while bringing him to the vet for ultrasounds every few months? What if I choose to watch his condition then while I’m away for a race or whatever the worst case scenario happens? If there are changes then will it be too late? I’m the human adult that has to roll the dice to make the best decision for him. At this time I am so torn that I can’t even think straight. With all of the changes in my life I really don’t know how the hell I’d deal with the loss of my best friend. Then again, when things are up in the air I tend to go to the “dark side” and whip myself into a frenzy of negativity and doubt. Regardless, I have some serious thinking to do.