I have always followed my heart. It has taken me to some very good places, but also some bad. Still, it chases what it wants like a lost puppy, and I follow.
This last week was tumultuous: I had a terrible encounter with the dog catcher. Zephyr got something caught in his throat at the river landing us at the vet. His throat seemed to clear on its own, but since we were there Dr. True ran blood work. She’s pretty sure now that Zephyr has Kushings Disease, but we’ve been aware of this possibility for about a year now. There’s nothing to be done and the medication’s side effects are worse than the disease, so no drugs.
She lowered his thyroid meds and even his pain meds, because he’s really lost weight, even though he eats very well. The truth is Zephyr is getting old–Zephyr is old. He’s nearly 12, that’s roughly 84 years old, depending on who you believe.
I can’t wrap my mind around that number.
I count back my own life by the years with my dogs: I graduated, lived in Utah with Shadow. We moved back, lived by the park when we found Zephyr. We walked the river, lived loud in this small apartment until we lost Shadow. The apartment got bigger, quieter. I planted a memorial tree in the park with Zephyr. We watch it grow, mark time by its height and the slowing pace of our walks–run, walk, stroll.
We were three, then two. I thought we could go back to three, change direction, slow down the clock, becuase I can’t think of losing Zephyr.
Whose life will I watch to reflect my own? Who will share my story and be my witness?
So, today. I almost rescued another dog from the shelter. I was paying a ticket (ouch) and saw this small wiry haired terrier. She was scared, shivering in this drizzly cold, yet she was darling. My heart tripped up all over the place and I thought she was going to come home and be Zephyr’s girl friend. Happy ending, cut to credits.
I took Zephyr back to the pound to meet her face to face. I was excited, but also unsure. (I’m so good at ignoring my doubts! Just jump! My heart’s motto: just see what happens).
I don’t know if it was this gray, cold day or that Zephyr was particularly sluggish and passive, but the meeting was not a big hit. They both wagged and sniffed and all was fine, but they pretty much ignored each other after that and Zephyr sat down in waiting. We stayed for a while, as I talked it out with the patient assistant, but in the end I couldn’t make the commitment and we left. I was a little relieved, but also sad.
The situation will change. The weather will get nicer. The dog still may be there. She and Zephyr may have another meeting, or not, but the one thing that isn’t going to happen is Zephyr is not going to get younger. He is aging, slowing down, rapidly, it seems lately, and no matter who or what I bring home to entertain or sooth him, that’s not going to change, and I feel completely helpless over it.
Lessons are so fucking painful sometimes. Fear makes me do the craziest of things, like run from the dog catcher, like try to find Zephyr a girlfriend.
My heart is wide, expansive, pulsing in my throat, in my legs, shivering in my hands, at any given moment, for the most inexplicable reasons. It can make me feel crazy, irrational, spontaneous, hurt, joyful, alive, sorrowful, but I don’t know any other way to be, still I sometimes listen, to that other side, the brain, the knocking, the nudge, that says, “Ssh, dear, not now. Not just yet. Not today. Rest. It’s okay to wait, to think, to change your mind. Love will step in, even when you can’t, to rescue us.