It floors me, sometimes, to think about how much the human spirit can endure. In our house January seemed to be the only calm and uneventful month. But then came February, rearing its ugly head. My dear sweet Welsh Pembroke Corgi, Ellie, my only little girl, had to be taken to the vet to be put to sleep.
She’d had a tumor in her back leg that was painful and not going away no matter what treatment we did to help it. Then the day after Valentine’s Day my husband and I found her not being able to move. Her poor leg had swollen twice its size and we knew it was time. I was inconsolable. She was just as much a baby to me as my human son was and she was our youngest dog. Dear Ellie was only nine years old, hardly an old dog.
Five weeks later on March 22 we found our second oldest dog, Jett, staring at the wall in our bedroom, not moving, not doing anything except for contemplating the wall. A few hours later as I was writing The Blue Lute, I heard him tumble down the stairs. In the past he’d occasionally been a little stiff in the joints, so I didn’t think too much of it, but still I checked on him. He was fine and I took him outside. The next day he seemed a little off and the following day, Sunday, he was not doing well at all. He wouldn’t go to the bathroom, would really walk, he didn’t bark when anyone was around. That’s when all the puzzle pieces came together…we figured out that he’d probably had a stroke that day he was sitting there staring at the wall.
We would have taken him into the vet that day, but it was a Sunday and oddly enough we were in the middle of the biggest blizzard we’d had all year. There was twenty-something inches of white stuff piling up on the ground. The next morning, March 25th, Jett had definitely taken a turn down a dead-end road and through the snow we went to the vet. Our second dog in just over a month was sent to the golden fields somewhere in the great beyond. Jett had just turned twelve years old on March 17th.
April and May seemed to be all right – just the normal daily stresses. I spent most of my time promoting Beneath the Wall, running the Around the World contest and editing/polishing up The Blue Lute. But then came June… our surviving Corgi, Earl, the oldest, biggest and most challenging dog started really showing his age. He was thirteen, had some thyroid problems (which ballooned him 20-30 lbs heavier than the other Corgis early on), and was lame in his back legs. We would have to lift him (yes, lift a 50+ pound Corgi) down the stairs to go outside and do his business. Thank goodness for that gym membership.
As the days went on Earl got worse and worse, became incontinent, couldn’t walk and could barely lift his head to take a drink out of his water dish. His time had come and June 14, 2013, a month and two days after his thirteenth birthday, our first baby was lulled into serenity at two o’ clock in the afternoon. As my six year old son said later that day – he was off to play with his brother and sister.
Deep sorrow ripped through our house, not just for Earl but for all the pets we lost this year. It was an end of a era… a Corgi Era, if you will. So as we’ve found out the human spirit is either tough or too stupid to stay down when it’s had too much. It perseveres and gathers up our being so we can strive and move on even when all else seems bleak. It may be an end of an era but it can also be a new beginning and for my own sanity, that’s the way I will chose to think of it. We know not what path we’ll be led down now, but I am excited to see what there is in store for us.