Today is better than yesterday but I’m not as sure about tomorrow as I used to be. My dog Ashley is once again fighting for her life. This time around I will let her go when the time comes. Two and a half years ago I fought for her life after she was mauled by an off leash pit/chow mix. This time it is not my decision to make as Ashley faces congestive heart failure. It has crept up on us both very slowly. Yet her decline is evident, mostly by me.
Last night I crawled into bed without her. I’ve tried keeping her there even with the diuretic that has been prescribed for her. It has been a challenge, but I knew that time was over for us. The crook of my arm was empty, my body felt cold and there was a silence that overtook my heart as I realized how much I missed her nighty ritual of grooming her paws before settling into a peaceful rest. My ritual of ducking my head under the covers just to take in the sweetness of her body as she relaxed into the night was over as well.
I thought about waiting to eulogize her but I decided that I wanted to write about her while she is still with me. I’ve learned a lot about myself from this old dachshund. Ashley brings joy and pleasure into my life as I’ve discovered the language of her heart that is evident through her eyes. She communicates her hunger, her fear and her contentment as she stares me down in moments of her need. I’ve found great delight as our eyes meet to bring her exactly what she wants. As of late, she has been most demanding for her nightly rub down that includes her “itchy” spot that causes her hind leg to vibrate to the rhythm of the rub. She has fine-tuned my understanding through her bark and her dance that still brings a smile to my face.
Oddly enough, I would like to be more like Ashley. She knows no self-pity as she has accepted her infirmities with ease and grace. She has not allowed her labored breathing to take her down. I believe she is enjoying her space alone at night as she begins to transition into her old age. She still patrols the parameter of our property daily. Little does she know that I keep a watchful eye out for her as she slowly adjusts to the exhaustion that accompanies her pace.
Ashley has kept my heart tender, not just for her, but for myself.
There are moments where I want to deny myself of her to protect the deep ache in my heart. I try to imagine life without her as if somehow it will be better, yet I’m not allowing that to happen…it would only serve as a place to violate the kindness and goodness that lives in my heart.
I wish I knew if there would be dogs in heaven…I don’t know. But here is what I do know: God created all animals, including Ashley, and God loves His creation. God loves what brings us joy and pleasure. God knows what our heart’s desire is…and in His way and in His time He will meet our desire as only He can.
Ashley has filled a place in my life that I will always be grateful for. She is one brave little dog who has fought adversity and lived. I love her, and I believe she knows that. She is and forever will be “the dachie on my lap.”
Mary Jane Hamilton has grown to love her sense of style and her peaceful lake living. Mother of 2 and grandmother of 6, she has a wonderful capacity to love and is still active as The Tooth Fairy. She is extremely fond of her dachshunds, who rarely venture from her lap, and enjoys biking with her husband of 44 years. She is rekindling her writing skills and finding it life giving.