Saturday, January 7, 2012

Black dogs are hard to photograph

and big goofy black dogs are even harder - and they break your heart and squeeze your soul when that big goofy black dog turns out not to be so goofy ... and instead what you thought was goofiness was really a disease ... one called degenerative myleopathy ... one that calcifies the spine until slowly, surely, implacably your big black dog is walking and suddenly his back end collapses.

Big black dogs with long silly tails (24 inches - measured) that have broken and destroyed more things than you can imagine and you wish, in your heart, that that long silly and lethal tail was still doing that ... instead of being carried at half mast, instead of tangling between his big black legs, instead of lying, lifeless along his big black haunches.

Big black dogs that have an opinion on everything, who give out when they think life is being unfair, who talk back when they are reprimanded, who carry on talking no matter how much you try to shush them, who feel they have a right to air their grievances, long, loudly and with a lot of whining - well you want to keep hearing that big black dog's voice because when you hear that big black dog giving out, well, he's still there, isn't he?

DM is one of those diseases that is more about what it isn't rather than what it is.  Hard to diagnose, harder to ascertain for sure.. it is through a process of elimination more than anything. 

Hindsight is always clear - those moments when he would round the corner and his legs would slip or the sharp crack as he careened into the wall or what you interpreted as his clumsiness because after all, he is a big, skinny, gangly black dog... all of sudden the weakness you could no longer miss in his back end takes on a new meaning ....

Big black dogs who are lap dogs, who crave a touch, a pet, an acknowledgement of their existence. Big black dogs who were neglected and forlorn when as a small, needy pup were chained and left to their own devices, alone, always alone, gazing into lighted windows into a life denied them, relegated to a cold backyard and an igloo considered "good enough". Big black dogs who at 3 came into their new lives with a friend and love and lots of affection and never EVER were left lingering outside looking in. 

My Llyr, my love, my boy... I will relish each and every moment of every day that your big nose gets into, I will laugh when I find the garbage you have stolen, I will ignore the seven cat food dishes I find every day in your bed, I will ensure that Finn (who as dogs do, sense weakness) doesn't bully you (although she may be just getting back from all the bullying you were responsible for!), that the couch beside me is "your" seat as it has always been, that the door is never closed so you are never locked outside even for one scary moment.... I promise to cherish each of your many tirades and as long as you can, we will take our walks and let the neighbourhood know that the big black dog in the green house with the big porch is still the Boss. That the big black dog with the deep bark still rules.  Because as long as you are able, you ARE the Boss-man and the marshmallow insides that only I know will be our secret.

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