By Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal
“Old dogs, like old shoes, are comfortable. They might be a bit out of shape and a little worn around the edges, but they fit well.”
– Bonnie Wilcox
“You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson
“A dog wags his tail with his heart.”
– Martin Buxbaum
There’s no rest for the weary. My mom used to say that a lot and I wasn’t sure what it meant. These days, I do.
No one in my household has gotten an uninterrupted night’s sleep in quite some time. Except, perhaps, for Thom Thumb the Chihuahua, who seems to be able to shut out the world and snooze on.
Chunk, the 14-year-old black Lab, has become a nighttime wanderer.
The click-click-clicking of her toenails on the hardwood floors has become, for me, a bit like the beat-beat-beating in Poe’s “The Telltale Heart.”
She paces. As she paces, she pants.
And every hour or so, she barks until someone wakes up, follows the sound and inquires as to her need.
Water bowl full? Check.
Need to go outside? No, too hot.
What is it then, Chunk? It’s 3 in the morning.
She stares up at the large plastic box that houses peanut butter-flavored treats, and because we are sleep deprived, we are tempted to give her what she wants in exchange for a few hours of quiet slumber.
Then we remember Pavlov and his conditioned canines. Sorry, Chunk. No treat.
Because of her advancing years, we worry about her insomnia, her breathing, her loss of muscle tone in her back legs. We wonder if she is in pain and we wish, more than anything, that she could tell us how she feels, what she needs.
We give her arthritis and pain meds to keep her comfortable. And to keep her with us as long as possible.
We confess to a certain amount of selfishness that comes with loving a dog. But we are also steeling ourselves for the time when a selfless decision must be made to bring Chunk peace.
For now, we fight the human urge when we rise each morning, groggy from our Chunk-interrupted rest, to make a lot of noise and wake her from her dawn-induced slumber.
When she finally sleeps, she dreams. And in her dreams, she runs.
It brings to mind something else my mom used to say.
Let sleeping dogs lie.