I watch her sleeping on the floor, choosing to stretch out on the area rug instead of the cold concrete. She’s a smart one, my Lily. She’s also a sad one. Since her diabetes diagnosis in late August she has become so ragged, in appearance and health. Her once thick, white fur my husband and I clipped for the summer did not grow back as it usually does this time of the year. There are still bald patches here and there, and in some places it molts like a pilling winter sweater. Her right eye has always been a little lazy, but now her once bright, almond shaped eyes are clouded with cataracts and weep viscous, milky tears. She keeps them closed most of the time, as if holding them open is too exhausting, or futile, or both. Bless her pitiful heart.
She wasn’t always like this. My husband and youngest son chose her from a litter at the animal shelter and brought her home to be a pet for my son and for our other dog. Just a little ball of white fur she made herself at home right away. Her only quirk was she did not like to be held. The shelter folks said she was a cattle dog, but she didn’t have any markings like the pictures of other cattle dogs I researched. I thought maybe she had some golden retriever in her. As she grew, and boy did she grow fast, I saw more characteristics of Akita in her, and her spotted tongue made me think Chow. No matter the mix of breed, she has the sweetest nature of any dog I’ve ever had. She’s just a dog, and that’s good enough.
She has always been obedient even without any training. I can take her out anywhere without a leash and she will never go far and always come when I call. When she was able she loved to go on walks with me on our property. She quickly learned her way around and found the bridge to cross the creek. Not that it mattered; she would usually wade in the water for a drink anyway. She liked to run ahead and wait for me to catch up and then run ahead again, but never so far that I was out of her sight. I’ve always wished I knew how to train her because she is one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever known. She learns so fast.
Before her sight failed her see she could catch any morsel of food from as close or as far as it was thrown to her. Food has always been her favorite thing, especially food that is meant for the cats. She can upturn a cat dish and the garbage can faster than I can run ahead and put them out of her reach. She can lick a cat food tin spotlessly clean despite my warnings of cutting her tongue. She hasn't cut it yet. I said she's smart.
I love my sweet Lily dog. She may be a little skittish with strangers, but she lavishes affection on those she loves and who love her. I will always stand by my belief that shelter dogs are the most loyal dogs because they know they have been rescued and they are grateful.
I am grateful Lily has been a part of my family for the past ten years or so. She gives unconditional love to each one of us, and all she wants in return is a little attention. All she wants to do is lie on the rug and be a part of the household. That’s not much for what she gives.
It pains me to see her stumble in her dark world, bumping into furniture and getting lost in corners of the house. I have to lead her head down towards her food and water bowls until her remaining sense of smell finds the food she so enjoys. As much as she eats she is not gaining weight. Her thirst for water is unquenchable. What little of her the diabetes hasn’t taken, her allergies are consuming. What do I do, let her live this inhumane miserable life, or humanely put her out of her misery? I love my Lily dog. Bless my pitiful heart.