And then there were five. Five dogs in the house. We have three — Ali, Frankers and Dante. The current foster makes four. Time to make good on a promise.
After my parents’ third miniature poodle passed away (neurotic little creatures, I tell ya!), I finally talked them into a different breed. A Shih Tzu to be exact. Cute as a button, that became her name … Buttons. And only after I talked them into it as they wanted to name a black/white dog “Buffy” — until I made them watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Along with the gift of a wriggling puppy 10+ years ago, there came a promise … should anything happen or their health fail, Buttons would come live with me.
Mom died 2.5 years ago, the victim of a massive stroke. Buttons helped fill the grief-filled hours and gave my father reason to get up in the morning. She, in turn, sought him out as never before in the past. A deeper bond was formed in the ashes of their loss.
Buttons has been with me off and on since the end of March. Dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer then and it was originally thought to be a “low grade” cancer. Another procedure is performed in mid-June and we find a “fast, aggressive” cancer. July 2nd brings the emergency surgery to remove bladder and a cancerous bowel obstruction. The recommended post-surgical treatment — a grueling regimen of radiation and chemo — is refused (wisely, all things considered). August runs together with two more hospitalizations in as many weeks. For each emergency, Buttons and all her necessities are packed up and hauled to our house. Easily done as she’s intimately familiar with our home and the other dogs.
I suspect the doctors will move Dad to the hospice ward in days/hours as the bowel obstructions can’t be controlled or fixed. He is drawn and frail, having lost 25+ pounds since July. An obvious withering is present even though I see him daily. Family has been called in — better get here while he’s still cognizant. In short, he lies dying in a hospital bed … and his little dog sleeps quietly at my feet.
Time to pony up. Papa … your beloved Buttons is my baby now. Loved for who she’s been all these years and cherished as the last link to you. ‘Til we meet at the Bridge when I escort her home …