Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sweet Opal

A few months ago I wrote about Opal and her deteriorating health. You can read it:

Just like the other two who went before her, she is holding on much longer than we expected. Opal has always been very stoic. She never lets on that she is in pain, so its difficult to gauge the extent of her injuries or illnesses. For a while, she was struggling to walk and would fall now and then. She had a hard time waiting until she got outside to go to the bathroom. We knew she was going downhill.

We left her with a pet sitter at the house on April 30th - we were in Eugene for the marathon. She was able to walk a little when we left, when we got home she had lost that ability. We are going on three weeks now that her back legs have completely given up. She drags herself around now.

Many people say that we should just put her down and be done with it. That's not how we work and that isn't what we'll do until we are sure it is time. The others have told us when they were ready. Opal is not ready. She is more frustrated about it than anything else.

Opal is a follower. She has always loved to follow us around. She never just layed in one spot. If you got off the couch to walk into the kitchen, she got up and followed. She is very frustrated that she can no longer do that. If we are in the same room as her, she is happy. If we are not, she barks...non stop barking.

She always slept downstairs and at night we could hear her pacing, she rarely layed down at night. It was like she was on patrol. She can't do that now and so when we go to bed, she barks. The last two weeks, Trevor has slept on the couch so that she will relax a little. This has resulted in a major lack of sleep for everyone in our house. But as Trevor said "its what we do".

Our life is full of routines. During the day, she stays in the living room. The main problem is the step between the living room and kitchen. She can't get up and down that. We decided to put her in the living room on the carpet because it seemed more comfortable. Every night when I get home, she has pulled herself over to the step and is waiting there for me.

I move her up into the kitchen and put her on another blanket while I clean up whatever has happened during the day and do my evening chores. She is very happy to be there with me. She'll sleep or drink water or just lay and watch me.

She has a sore on her back side from dragging herself around - rug burn. We have started giving her a bath out on the deck every couple days to keep that clean. Opal has never liked to be still. But now, she seems to love just laying on her side while I wash and rinse her. She lays her head down and is very peaceful. The warm water and having her mom and dad comfort her must make her feel good. We decided we will do more of that in her remaining days. Anything we can do to ease her soul, we will do.

Every day we tell her that its okay to just go to sleep, but she isn't having any of that. She gets excited when she sees us and is happy to take her pills with meat or cheese. She says "meat pills!!" when we open the fridge. She doesn't cry or yipe in pain. She just seems confused by it all.

Opal is 14 years old. Her collar, that she has worn her entire life, says "Crazy Dog". She has always been a crazy dog. These last couple years she has mellowed out and become less crazy. We love her so much. She is daddy's girl. He raised her from a puppy. I have known her since she was about 3. She used to say "you're not my mom", but now she says "I love my mom".

This is the third time we have been through this in the last 17 months and it does not get easier. It will be a relief when she is gone because its like having a puppy again. She needs constant attention. But we will miss all the things that she brings into our life, all the routines she keeps, all the barking and licking and toy chasing.

Opal is very wire haired, she isn't really soft, but her ears are. We always say that they ran out of material when they were making her and so they had to use some other dog's ears. I always told her that when she got to heaven she'd get to figure out where her ears came from. We talk about that alot. She can't wait to see. She also really misses Wookie and knows that he and Gus are waiting for her. Then, the three of them can all be together again.

We have Wookie and Gus' ashes sitting on the pool table downstairs and we are waiting for Opal to tell us she's ready to go get on the pool table with them. I hope the other two are laying in the sun right now, in heaven, awaiting the arrival of their girl dog. Our lives will not be the same without her.

We love you Opal, its time to let go. For all of us.

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