Seraphim has already posted the sad news about our "granddog" and Puddy's son Luke. He lost a valiant fight with heartworms. Luke was 9.
Could this explain, in some weird, twisted and cosmic way, why Puddy has acted a little more affectionate than usual today? I worked early and got home about 2:00; Puddy has been more than my shadow all afternoon and much of this evening, save for getting out to do a little grass mowing and for an early-evening visit to Lowe's (something I'll be posting about a little later).
I never got close to Luke -- the two boys were more the spitting image of their Daddy (a cocker spaniel named Roscoe - R.I.P.; talk about a whirlwind dog to the end!) than of their Mommy. Still, it doesn't lessen the sadness I feel. I'm sure right now, Luke is breaking Alpo with his three siblings, the 'weakest links' of Puddy's original litter of nine.
Below is a picture of the three dogs in their prime. I took it Thanksgiving Day 2002. They've spent their entire lives in the backyard at my in-laws' house south of Albany, Ga. Daisy is on the left; she's my MIL's "baby" and has a disposition so much like Puddy's that it's spooky. The only difference between them is that Daisy has the white color around her nose.
The terrible part is, I've never been able to tell the difference between Bo and Luke. I could take a guess and say he's on the right, but I'm sure I'd be wrong.
Luke's health took a nosedive over the last couple of weeks, and the plans were for my FIL to take him to the vet and have him put to sleep. Luke didn't make it. He died in the backyard. In a way, I take a comfort in that. His brother and sister -- indeed, his "family" -- were there.
And that gives me immeasurable amounts of comfort.
Luke's death has me worried about a couple of things. First, the survivors - Daisy and Bo. If one was infested with heartworms, what about the other two?
And second, my attention draws itself back to Luke's mother, the ornery yet lovable slice of canine womanhood to my right. She's in her usual position, sprawled out and snoozing in the doorway of The Music Room™.
Above, she's looking at me as I had to take a picture of her just before beginning this post. This is Puddy, at about 10:45 this evening. There has to be hundreds upon hundreds of pictures we've taken of Puddy over the years, yet it's just not enough. There always has to be just one more.
Luke's 'bridge crossing' only brings the 800-pound St. Bernard to my mind's forefront. That being Puddy's escalating age. April 9th is her birthday, and Wednesday the old girl officially becomes a teenager. That's 91 for you and me.
Puddy had her annual checkup and shots in mid March, and she received a clean bill of health. The only problem is that cataracts have taken root - started over a year ago, according to the vet. Her right eye is now one big cloud, and I see some beginnings of cirrus formations in the other. I figure within the year, our sweet girl will no longer be able to see us. I know dogs don't rely so much on sight as they do on smell and hearing. Meanwhile, we've already resolved not to move a single piece of furniture in our home until ....
This evening I told Seraphim, "I hope Puddy lives 'till she's at least 50, because I don't know if I'm going to be able to take the inevitable." Yes, it's going to happen someday. Hopefully way later than sooner. I know a couple of people - one in particular is a band director friend of mine in Alabama - who had the cruel, yet dignified honor of conducting that so-called "final act of love."
Puddy, technically, is Seraphim's dog. She picked her out - no, Puddy picked HER out - of the litter in 1995. Raised her from a pup. And Seraphim's amazing furry baby, I've said before in this space, barked at me incessantly when we first started dating. It took her a month or so before the girl finally "accepted" me.
Today? I swear I haven't done anything to influence this, but Puddy is first, last and foremost a "Daddy's girl." Sera usually goes to bed a little earlier than I do, but does she go "night-night" with Mommy? Nope. When my wife tries to coax her, Puddy will often duck underneath the computer table beneath me.
She only goes to bed when I get in there.
Did I mention the repurposed stepstool? The one Seraphim got for me after we moved into this house. I bought a number of CD/VHS shelves, practically floor to ceiling in this room, and the little unfinished-wood stepstool was for me to easily reach the higher points in my library.
That stepstool hasn't been in this room for a couple years now. Puddy can no longer jump onto the bed with us, and that to me was unacceptable. I moved that stool into our bedroom, put a couple of bath rugs on it for traction, and 'trained' her to use it to easily step up onto the bed.
When I make my monthly junkets to Alabama to visit my son, I have to hide the suitcase (I'll let her outside to "go potty", then I move the packed suitcase through the hallway and outside to the car!). Puddy knows what a single suitcase in my hand means: a weekend without Daddy. She mopes.
Yeah, I couldn't love her more if I'd raised her myself.
Well, this was supposed to be some reflections on Luke ... it wasn't intended to be yet another gooey and sickening paean to Puddy.
Can't help it, sorry.
Ciao for niao.
--Talmadge "Puddy-whipped" Gleck
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