Saturday, June 25, 2011

We're All Aging

Just some of us are doing it faster than others. Not me, of course. I retain the mind of a child, and no, I’m not going to follow that up with “in a jar on my desk,” though I’m sorely tempted. That should give one indication that I’m not aging gracefully.

One of my dogs, Honey, the charming half chow half retriever I’ve had for what seems like forever, is aging. So far, she’s been rather graceful about it. As graceful as a dog can be, anyway. Like me, she likes her sleep, and, also like me, she still likes to play. Ash, the four year old dog, can run circles around her, and me, but she doesn’t mind so much. She’ll wait until he’s exhausted himself and then pounce on him. She’s still the lead dog, the head honcho, the big kahuna, despite him now being slightly taller. In the middle of the night Ash will wake me up (by staring at me intently) so I can escort him past the big scary lump of dog standing between him and the water bowl. In the morning, as they rush down the stairs together, he jumps all over her, attempting to impede her progress and start play time, but when she’s between him and his food or water, he dares not cross her.

Yesterday when I got up I found Honey, as usual, sound asleep in the bathroom. She falls asleep on her dog bed at night, then during the night she decides the bathroom floor is a better place and moves. Sometimes after this happens Ash then gets off the bed, sometimes off the pillow we share since he’s lately decided he’d rather sleep at my head than my feet, and takes possession of the dog bed, but never while Honey’s around to see him do it.

And yes, I know, what kind of person lets a 60 pound dog sleep on their pillow? Well, now you know.

Honey wasn’t moving much, even when I called her name. No movement. I got closer. “Honey?”

Still nothing.



So I reached down to pet her, and scared the crap out of her.

Not literally, obviously.

We’ve been testing her hearing ever since, and it’s sort of not there, at least not on one side. One day we have a perfectly healthy dog and the next day she’s deaf. She’s on antibiotics for an abscess in one ear flap and is getting twice a day ear drops, which she’s had before, but she’s never been so . . . deaf.
How can I keep telling my dog how wonderful she is if she can’t hear me? I do it anyway, because I’m not sure what she can hear and what she can’t, and I’m not taking any chances. I used to be able to say her name and her tail would wag, even if the rest of her wouldn’t move, but now, not so much.

This morning she raced downstairs with Ash, out to her favorite place, the back yard, where she could run around and lay in the grass, which is her favorite hobby. She acts like she’s fine, but when I went out to give her another antibiotic I had to go find her around the corner instead of calling her. She seemed to hear me when I got close, but it’s hard to tell when she’s not speaking to me.

Just for the record, my dog has never spoken to me, so this is nothing new.

She’s pretty healthy, overall, for a dog her age. Just two weeks ago the vet said so. Nothing wrong with her, other than that ear thing. I’m hoping to delay her aging process for a long time. Getting her a puppy four years ago helped – I’m certain she got younger when she had a puppy to keep up with.

(Perhaps as we age we should get younger companions since keeping up with them will keep us active? I covered that already by marrying my husband.)

We shower her with love and affection and play time. And in return, she doesn’t bite me when I startle her because she didn’t hear me coming. It’s a fair exchange. Beyond that, we don’t think about it. We’ve got too much present going on to think about the future.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Book Awaits!

It’s been decided: the next nonfiction book-length project will be essays with family as the theme. The governing board thought this would suit me and let me stick with my strengths. The governing board, for those of you not in the know, is me. I can comprise an entire governing board all by myself because I’ve put on a few pounds in the last few years.

The governing board also laments the lack of my work ethic, but we’re working on a compromise: I won’t tell the governing board where to put their (mine) poorly thought out opinions and the governing board will stop hassling me to do Something That Matters. It’s a good compromise, as long as they stick with their end of the bargain.

Besides, as I like to tell the governing board from time to time, I am engaged in running a business at the same time in order to, y’know, make a living. The governing board scoffs at this, saying that if I were really industrious I’d be working nonstop from 6 am to 1 am, with five hours for sleep.

I counter with the idea that the governing board is not in touch with reality, and that if they’d just get off their high horses (which remind me of Trojan horses, for some reason), they’d understand that I’m also a person and not just a working machine.

Said governing board scoffs back. Etc. We’ve reached an uneasy truce, but I tell you, the board is in danger of getting fired if they veer off course again.

I love my family. Even the ones who can’t stand me. I chalk it up to me not being easily stood at times. Let’s face it, I am a bit of a prima donna. And tactless. I possess no social skills. I don’t remember them on their birthdays. I hardly ever invite them to my family reunions, mostly because I don’t have family reunions. Every family needs someone to look down on, and in my family I was it. I didn’t realize this at the time, I just thought no one liked me.

TURNS OUT I’m not completely unlikeable at all! Sure, my stepmom didn’t like me much, but that’s okay. I’m too much like my mother, and stepmom never cared for mom. Reviewing some of their correspondence from when I was young I can see why. I’m not sure I would have cared for either of them if I had been an adult and not an emotional ping pong ball.

(Note: Said correspondence is only that received from stepmom, since mom kept everything ever sent to her, and it all resides now at my house.)

I’m fairly certain that had any of my siblings had a choice, they would not have selected me for a sibling. But guess what! They had no choice! Hah!  When I first met one set of stepsiblings they openly made fun of me, while accepting my brother into their clan. And my older sister, who was the perfect older age to mentor the stepsister. My stepmother looked at me with no small measure of disgust and said, “Art, you let her go outside like that?”

Art is my dad, in case that wasn’t clear.

My stepmom’s disdain for my appearance/attitude/demeanor carried over into my real life, by which I mean the life outside of my family, but I’m totally grateful to have had a family who provides me so much material. Who needs the whole happy childhood thing when you can instead have things to talk about? Well, in my case, anyway. Hey, it works for me.

That whole hogwash about family being the one place that has to take you in? Hogwash. Family is what you make of it, and some families will take you in, even if you aren’t theirs, and some won’t, even if you are theirs. And some families have to kick you out, lest you spend your life lounging on mom and dad’s couch, which isn’t a good idea in most circumstances.

Ahh, family. I love them all. Doesn’t mean I won’t make fun of them now and then, but as far as I know they don’t actually read the things I write, so I think I’m good. Of course, since I’m compiling these into a book, you can’t read them until then. So sorry. It’ll do you good to wait a bit anyway.