Friday, November 12, 2010

I woke up full of good intentions today. A 2nd post for my sisters.

Dear sisters 1 and 2,

Who else am I going to talk to about this, but you?

Georgia has all grown up now and doesn't want to spend her days amusing me anymore, so I have no new funny stories to tell you. I now understand why so many dogblogs start and end with puppyhood. But there are still some serious dog things I can write about. This may be one of them.

I haven't had a special walk with Georgia in a week. Largely because I've gone back to training capoeira [please don't scold!], and am having enormous trouble just getting out of bed. So she's been making do with her favourite human in the world. Yes, the one that goes out to work. Poor Georgia.

But last night, I decided I would take her out today. For sure. I had it all planned. A long Let's Get Lost walk followed by various Essential Stops on the way home.

1st Stop - Salvos for some new recycled dog walking shorts because I can no longer button up any from last summer thanks to the 10kgs I put on while tending to my blighted knee.

2nd  and 3rd Stops - The Baron for passionfruit tarts, Victoire for a flourless chocolate cake because hey! I will by then have some new shorts I can fit into, so it'll be okay.

4th Stop - the gym, to let them know I won't be renewing my membership because I don't think I'll be able to find the strength for both capoeira AND yoga, not to mention those damn bicycles that go nowhere, thank you.

5th Stop - Zumbo's for a fresh crusty olive rosemary sourdough bread to see me through the weekend.

So you see, my dear sisters, I really did have a plan and am not just saying it.

But God not only laughs at the plans of mice and men. He also has a good guffaw at women with 1 young enthusiastic dog and 1 old incontinent one.

Rufus had another 'accident' this morning. This time, in the car, on his way to Callan Park. I'm not going to make this another funny story. There are already 1, 2, 3 in this blog, and people must be wondering why I keep making jokes about my old dog's incontinence.

But really, what else can you do but laugh?

Back home again, Rufus had to have his butt and legs washed and dried because he'd sat on his poop. 40 minutes.The dirty towel and rug from the car scrubbed. 10 minutes. The courtyard hosed down because he can no longer remember the area where he's been doing his toilet for the last 8 years. 5 minutes. It's only 9am, and I've already mopped the kitchen twice because I'm not good at looking the other way when I see pee on the floor.

Yes, it's true. I'm having A Big Fat Feeling Sorry For Myself You've Ruined My Day Moment.

Which is a great time for me to think about Winston.

Winston is a Great Dane we used to see quite a lot of in the days before Georgia. He was young still, when he was diagnosed with a medical condition whose name I can't remember, but that made him lose control of his back legs. That diagnosis led to an operation, which was followed by months of post-op rehabilitation. Despite all that, Winston was not able to regain the full use of his legs and these days, manages a 20 minute walk around his house for exercise. Yesterday, we heard that Winston had just returned from the vet's where he had been treated for bloat, that sometimes fatal scourge of the deep-chested dog.

I don't really know Winston's owners. I don't really know how they feel about the situation. But over the years, whenever I would hear of what Winston was going through, I would feel a sense of awe and amazement at their love for, and care of, this dog. Did I mention Winston is an 86kg Great Dane?

If you have a small dog, you won't be able to imagine what it's like to have a Very Large Incapacitated Dog. The simplest things, like taking your dog to toilet when he can't walk, become Very Big Problems. 

Which brings me back to Rufus. When the vet told us he wouldn't see the year out, friends and strangers alike all advised us to "enjoy him while you can".

I thought that was a strange thing to say. How do you enjoy a dog you've been told is going to die any minute? Who can't eat anything without getting sick? Who can hardly stand, much less go for walks? Who can't even physically be with the family anymore, but has to stay in his own penned up area of the house?

How do you enjoy a dog that you're always cleaning, and cleaning after, cooking for, and have to take out rain, shine or hail because he's incontinent and has to go when he has to go?

Of course, I was wrong. After the first few weeks of restless nights and bawling my eyes out, and more weeks of feeling like a stay-at-home martyr, I learnt to enjoy Rufus in ways that surprised even me.

But though Rufus has taught me a lot about patience and love, I still haven't learnt how to be a happy and uncomplaining carer. I bet you never thought it'd be possible to love and complain at the same time.

If there's one thing I've learnt in my months of lurking on dogblog sites, there are a lot of people out there who do remarkable, selfless things for their dogs. Some of these people give up their jobs to care for their sick and dying dog. Some spend truckloads of money seeking an elusive treatment. And then, despite all that, they berate themselves when their dog dies anyway.

These people are saints. If they ever read this, they would no doubt think me a selfish pig and don't worry, the other human in this house constantly reminds me of it.

But -  as the vet admonished me during a visit when I was possibly whingeing - the care of an old and/or sickly dog is no different really from the care of an old and/or sickly human.

And he's right. Of course, he's right. But, like a good dose of post-natal depression, I can't help feeling the way I do. 

It eats away at your days, sometimes your spirit too, and it's tiring. There are moments when my black heart wishes it was over and we could move on with our lives. We meet people on the streets who are confused that Rufus is still with us because they saw what bad shape he was in just a few months back. We're pretty confused too. We're happy but bewildered, relieved but exhausted. Mostly, we wonder where this is going and how long it will take to get there.

So there you are, sister 1. You asked me to tell you more about my life since you live so very far away. My life is on hold. It's not a bad life. It's not even remotely a sad life. But it is on hold.

If Rufus keels over and dies tomorrow, I'll beat my breast and wail and never forgive myself for telling you all this.

If he doesn't? Well then, chances are, there'll be another day when I get annoyed all over again. Just because my plan for a dog walk didn't quite turn out like I had hoped for.

In other words, I remain, your prone-to-high-drama,
sister number 3.


koko said...

Your letter really touch my heart and makes me happy sad... happy to know you're not letting Rufus down when he needs you the most and sad that the situation seems to be caught in a loop of frustration. Hope that when this chapter of your life closes, it would be a part of the fond memories that makes our lives worth living.

Licks, hero

georgia little pea said...

dear hero's human, thank you for your kind thoughts.

though we often make fun of rufus in our blog, he is much loved and has indeed made many fond memories for us.

when we lost jordan so suddenly, i was angry that i didn't get a chance to say goodbye. but now that i have some experience of the long goodbye, i think we were lucky with jordan, and jordan was lucky too.

the end of any pet's life is hard. i don't think there's any way one can ever be prepared for it.

on a good note, hope that you and bubba are doing well and glad to see you posting again!

xox, georgia's human.

uncle STeve said...

via email -

sorry to hear that you're in a dark place at the moment. I know that it's easier said than done.... but whatever will be, will be with Rufus. He's not gone yet, so live in the now. Stop waiting (willing) for the end, there will be plenty of time to grieve when it's time to grieve.

As I've said to you both before, big dogs generally don't live long lives, so Rufus (& your good selves) has definitely gotten his monies worth.

A good part of him lasting as long as he has, can be put directly down to the love & care you've both given him.

It's good that you can see that this experience has taught you how to better deal with patience & shit.

As always our bestest thoughts are with you both, big hugs & best rgds STeve

PS. A good means of overcoming depression, try putting on tight uncomfortable shoes, it'll help take your mind of things.

georgia little pea said...

tight uncomfortable shoes. will remember for future dark days.

xox georgia's human.

Chapeuzinho said...

"this experience has taught you how to better deal with patience & shit."
Ah so true. and again we see parallels with dogs and young children. The problems of the old and the young are remarkably similar, though the young less so with illness (thank God).
And love comes hand in hand with some of the most dreadfully guilt laden frustration I've ever had to deal with.

with love, R

georgia little pea said...

your love is gratefully received :)

yes, there are plenty of similarities between the care of dogs and children, now that you mention it. and feeling frustrated is awful enough, without having to feel guilty about feeling frustrated as well.

love back to you and the tots. F's recycled books are sitting patiently on the dining table, waiting for me to pop over or vice versa, some day soon

xox i'm signing off everything as georgia's human today :)

p.s. patience and shit haha

Kristine said...

Thank you for putting this out there. It was brave.

I've been lucky enough to not have had to take on the responsibility of caring for anyone, dog or human, in this way. But I'm sure there will come a time where I will be needed. Though I can't say I know what it's like, I think you are allowed to feel all these things. You are allowed to complain and feel resentful. You're human, that's kind of what we do. The guilt we feel for feeling these things is the problem.

I'm not feeling very articulate today but I just wanted to say thanks on behalf of all those who are less alone because of what you have written.

Best wishes to you and Georgia and Rufus. I think you are just as saintly as those you've read about.

georgia little pea said...

dear kristine,

you are VERY articulate. that's why i like your blog a lot :) and thank you for your kind words and good wishes. in a way, i've been inspired to be more brave since reading your own unrestrained posts!

i guess it's always an up and down cycle with caring [whether dog or human, old or babe]. rufus is my very first. it's a steep learning curve.

xox georgia's human, who is in no way shape or form...a saint! :p

Anonymous said...

I can see that the whole gamut of human emotions can be equally experienced with beloved pets. From baby photos (do humans show pictures of their adult children as much as their baby grandkids?) to sudden deaths of parents and slow, incontinent, slipping away of others. Thank you, for your sharing.. sister.

georgia little pea said...

it's just life. i should know better. and you're making me weep again. xox

Tell-A-Tale said...

Who says your life is on hold? Your life is what you are doing right now, which is taking care of what needs to be taken care of: mopping, cooking, weeping, loving...

georgia little pea said...

sisters give the best slaps ever! :) xox