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Off The Bed… On The Bed

Charlie is dying. He is fifteen and a half years old. I guess that is about 110 in dog years. It is quite remarkable. This past month has been a series of downs and ups and downs. About a month ago he started coughing quite a bit, but still fine otherwise. I took him to the doggie doctor and we did x-rays. The cloud from his pneumonia six years ago was more pronounced and his heart was somewhat enlarged. These were all things that the doctor seemed to find normal for his age and such. Antibiotics were given and he began getting them each day. Then, on July 4th, my birthday, we had a get-together at the house. His cough was worse that day and his breathing had become crackly. People talked to me about the inevitable. I told them all that he would be fine…he is just settling into the anti-biotics and getting all that ick out of his system. On July 5th, I called the vet and asked her opinion. She suggested a different antibiotic. So that night, he started the new antibiotic. The next day, he was barely coughing, which was a great sign. However, the day after that, his coughing was worse. The vet said to give it a week. So today, we went to the vet again and did new x-rays. They were very concerned at the progression of the lungs and trachea in the new x-rays compared to those of a month ago. The fact that he is going to die within the next week became clear, and I cried many tears while a fantastic doggie doctor who really cares seemed to look for every possible way to help him. We decided together that the goal is to get him comfortable. He is going to die, that is a fact. It might even be today or tomorrow, but definitely within the next seven days. So we have some meds to keep him relaxed and comfortable. Charlie and I went home and I let him up on my bed with me and he put his head in my lap. I talked to him about the period of time when he first came to live with us and he was about three months old and he always wanted to be in my bed and I always told him to get down. Now, fifteen years later, I was so happy to have him in my bed, his head on my lap, reminiscing about all of the cool experiences he has had in his life. I cried so much talking about it all, knowing that his ears stopped working over a year ago and he probably cannot hear me, but maybe he could at least feel the vibrations of my voice as he lay in my lap. I had a jar of peanut butter and two spoons and he perked up as soon as I opened the jar and his sniffer caught the scent. We ate some spoons of peanut butter together and really had a nice time hanging out. I think he is the most amazing dog with a most amazing life and I am so grateful to have been a part of it for 15 years and for my boys to grow up with Charlie. He crossed this country from coast to coast twice; he put his feet in two oceans as well as the Gulf Of Mexico in every state that borders it; he slept with the boys and I on the beach in San Diego; he went camping several times and was the absolutely the most amazing camping dog; he went each year to find a Christmas Tree with us in the forest; he understood english better than many humans and, after his ears stopped working, he quickly learned lip reading and hand signals; he never left my side given the opportunity and always made sure he had me in his sights when we were anywhere; he had a thing for bread and we had to keep the loaves out of his reach; he knew right from wrong very well and always had that look on his face when I came home from work and he had done something wrong (like steal the loaf of bread off the counter); he got to jump on the trampoline with the boys; one of his first furry best friends was an adopted cat named Becky who came with the house we bought and taught Charlie many things; his second furry best friend was a dog named Shadow who’s human was my best friend Karl; both Becky and Shadow passed away years ago…Charlie The Bear Killer just kept going in spite of pneumonia in 2011 and getting recurring pneumonia symptoms year after year. But now he is nearly 16 years old and his body just isn’t strong enough anymore. He had a great run and is being tough now too. I wish he would let go because I have cried my eyes out, felt my heart break, and now I know that he just needs to fall asleep and when he lays here and looks at me with that look like I am the most important being in his world, I just keep trying to look back at him with assurance that it is ok and he can let go.

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