But old age sucks for dogs too. And Lydia's thirteenth year on the planet was not kind to her. Failing eyesight and hearing were just the beginning. She started "sundowning" -- that wandering/agitated thing that dementia patients do each night at twilight. She walked in circles so much that she lost weight and got skinny -- *bony* skinny. And then the seizures started. Some were mild, some awful. And each one took a small chunk out of her personality. By last month Lydia was often a sad little shell of her former self, drifting from room to room with a troubled, discontented look on her face, as if searching in vain for The Unseen Problem. But other times, she would still gleefully greet my return home from work, and give us a little hope for her.
But then a few weeks ago, she had a big seizure, and then, last night, she had an even larger one that not only soiled rugs and floors, but sent her into a three-hour-long tailspin where she walked in circles for that whole time, drooling and crashing into walls, furniture and family -- even *after* we gave her a dose of Valium that would have sent most people into an extended trip to Snoozeville. It was awful. I said to my wife, "I am afraid it is going to be time soon." Always sensible, she said, "I'm afraid it's already time."
We took Lydia to the vet tonight. They couldn't have been nicer. They saw us after-hours, so no other animals would be in the waiting room to stress her out. Lydia died quietly with our hands cradling her head. Instantly, I had known that we made the right call. Her deep, relaxed sigh was the calmest one I had heard from her in many months.
As Jason Isbell sings, in my mind "I buried her a thousand times" previously. She was always on a high wire of shaky health. But Lydia's long, beautiful life was that rare sweet gift the universe occasionally hands you. I won't forget her.
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