Sunday, June 29, 2008
Praying for a Miracle
Those of you who have read my blog for a while probably know about my beloved dog, Duff. Ten years old with the physique of a five year old, nearly a hundred lbs., and as robust and good an animal as any I've had the privilege to know, the fellow was stricken with a mystery illness last Wednesday evening. Characteristically healthy as a horse, and practically built like one, he worked with me all day with no sign of discomfort or fatigue, then refused to get up when the work day was over. I got him to walk across the street to our house, after much cajoling, but he collapsed in a heap in the hallway and refused to budge. He couldn't even lift his head without crying out in immense pain, this same boy who busted my windshield with his head without so much as a whimper when he was a teenager.
I spent the night on the floor with him, trying to catch sleep between his whimpers and small restless movement. The next morning, my birthday, I took him into the vet, who shot him full of cortisone, took x-rays, ran bloodwork, and ended up stymied as to his diagnosis. One thing seems certain - he has a neurological problem which could be a tumor, a muscular disease, or even an adverse reaction to a simple bee sting or insect bite. He is much improved as regards his pain, and is now drinking and eating well, but aside from raising his head and wagging his tail, he can neither stand nor walk.
I remarked to a friend how beyond the obvious attachments and the less obvious fact that this shiny black friend of mine is clearly a replacement for the children I don't have, one can't underestimate the attachment of a being that is always in our presence. It isn't just that I love him, and I do immensely, it is that he is a part of my physicality - he is integrated into every step I take during the day. If I cook, I reach down to place on the floor the bowl with remnants of dinner for his enjoyment. If I go out, I consider how long I can rightly leave him alone. When I doze, I know that I will sleep better hearing his breath, and even the constant mounting and dismounting of the bed as he changes his position to find a better temperature equilibrium. In our time together, I'm sure I have swallowed and breathed in enough of his hair to choke a cat. He is in some ways the closest living being to me.
I know it's easy to dismiss the depth of a bond between humans and animals, to trivialize it as something less real, but I am sure it is not. What it is is less complicated, less fraught with neurotic longings, conflicts, and expectations. It is easier to have a more "pure" relationship to our pets, and I sincerely wish more of us could learn to behave more like them and less like us, because they really don't take things too personally, they just love.
Anyway, if you have time for a little prayer or something else you believe in to send his way, I would be grateful, because I'm just not ready to let go of him yet.