Dominic, my black & white cowprint Ol' Man, is my first foster dog. After 3ish months, I knew he would never leave.
Unfortunately, he will soon. Whether it's weeks or months, I'm spending a lot of time cherishing the moments and weeping. He's nearly 13 and still weighs around 70 lbs, has a (managed) heart murmur due to Mitral Valve weakening, and there's a lump growing in a cheekbone that I'm closely monitoring.
This part? Is the worst and most heartbreaking part of a journey with our beloved dogs. Grieving while they're alive. Beginning to make plans in case of a sudden decline. And praying there are no crises.
Yet the plan-making is one of the most loving acts. I will not watch him suffer. Period. I want him to go as gracefully and peacefully as possible.
What does that look like? Well, there are 3 things I do daily-ish:
- I'm taking occasional photos of the lumpy bump to monitor growth.
- And I'm measuring how he feels about his favorite things (food, short walks and cuz balls).
What I choose not to do is wait and see or rely on my emotions. Neither of those are fair for the human or the dog and they're highly unreliable as a 'plan.' Yes, my "evidence" is still somewhat based in emotion and objectivity. There's no perfect way to approach end of watch for any of us. I do know that our dogs rarely tell us when it's "time".
So until our numbers hit a critical level or I see through his stoicism, we're spending a little more time in bed cuddling each morning, taking little Bucket List adventures, and hoping he feels loved. Because he is...endlessly.