On the Life Expectancy of Dogs and Marco Polo

I am worried about our sweet rescue dog, Keisha.  She’s the Good Dog who woke us in time to escape The Fire that robbed us of our possessions and tactile memories. Keisha isn’t doing so well these days.  It’s full on summer heat and humidity here in Dallas, and she often looks at us imploringly, begging us to find the zipper on the permanent fur coat she wears so she can take it off.  That fur is sporting lots more grey these past three months, and she has also developed an allergy to something that is making her itchy and miserable. We are doing what we can to alleviate it.  On the bright side, she still wags her tail when we announce a walk, and gladly prances out the door, tail wagging and ears perked up. Her pace slows more quickly these days, and her once-favorite activity, chasing a ball until our arm falls off isn’t happening anymore.  Her spirit is willing but Keisha isn’t seeing as well as she used to.  She can’t neatly nip the ball out of the air and then gallop back, drop the ball at our feet and look up at us expectantly as she did a few years ago.  I find myself gazing at her as we walk and tearing up that we just don’t get to have her much longer. I think that inevitable journey to go catch all the squirrels she wants to over that Rainbow Bridge is coming sooner than we realize.  I need to stop the maudlin projecting, and just enjoy her while she is still with us.  I am petting her more often these days, and telling her she is a Good Dog, and that seems to make her happy. 

We don’t know how old Keisha is, or even what breed. She is a twice-surrendered dog to the shelter, and any sort of paperwork was lost.  We think she was maybe 2 or 3 when we got her, skinny and trying her very best to be adopted.  She had lots of energy, but we soon discovered that while she had been taught to sit, and was housebroken, she had never been walked on a leash. She learned with us. Craig had the brilliant idea of starting her secured on a long clothesline, throwing that ball, letting her run and then gently reeling her in as we told her to come.  Eventually being on a leash and going for long walks felt normal to her. Now the leash is a technicality. She just wants to be next to us all the time.  As I google dog life expectancy stats, I am sad to see that Beaucerons (which Craig thinks she is) live between 10-12 years, and that Shepards and Cattle Dogs (I think she is a mix) only get one year added to that.  I don’t want that to be true. Craig and I have had enough emotional turmoil this year.  Her aging is creating some interesting choices for us. For instance, we have opted to drive to Boston for our vacation so we can take her with us. She seems to enjoy car rides, and hates being left behind.  We think at this point in her life, a stint in a boarding facility would break her heart.  So, we are driving for two and a half days so our Good Dog can have a last big road trip and see her boys and her girl one last time.  I do think this is the last trip for her, so I am glad it’s going to be a good long one.

As I write this, some young girls are enjoying the pool that sits just outside our living room window in the apartment complex. I want to take this moment to do two things: A. To publicly apologize to all the people who wanted to enjoy laying out by swimming pools when I was young in Wichita, Kansas but couldn’t because my friends and I were playing “Marco Polo” in the pool for hours and hours and hours.  I am very sorry, I had no idea how truly awful this game is if you are not playing it.  B. Whoever the bastard was who invented this pool game consisting of shouting ‘Marco” and then “Polo” followed lots of splashing and screaming should be strapped down on a chaise lounge, covered in baby oil, forced to drink old-formulation saccharin-laden warm Tab, and think about the error of their ways.  Perhaps they would rename the game ‘Unique Audio Torture by High Squeaky Voices and Insane Repetition”.  I know, I know, it’s not a catchy title, and they are just having fun.  I’m just going to go over here and grab my curmudgeon stick, sit on the porch (which fortunately faces away from the pool), and pet my sweet Keisha and tell her what a Good Dog she is. She really is, you know.  Just the best dog.   

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