You might recall that we have two dogs: Shooter, a German Shepherd mix, and Zapp, a hound mix. Once upon a time, they were my sweety schmoopy babies. Then I had an *actual* baby, and suddenly their loud, dirty, canine hijinks became much less endearing and much more reminiscent of a giant pain in my ass.
Don’t get me wrong; I still love them. It’s kind of like you have certain family members who drive you absolutely insane–maybe even to the point where you’d never actively choose to spend time with them but will when called upon. You love them, but don’t like them so much.
(I know, I sound horrible. But, guys, they can be stunningly annoying.)
Zapp’s quirks are a bit easier to deal with because they can be attributed to the fact that she’s really tall and skinny and kind of not smart. She likes to crawl under the fence and stand in the alley, barking until we let her back into the yard. She runs into things on the regular. She likes to eat things she’s not supposed to and then eat grass which makes her barf and then she eats more grass because dogs eat grass when they don’t feel good and, augh, trust me, she’s dumb. But I can forgive dumb.
What I cannot forgive is intentional buttheadedness, which Shooter really, really excels at. Some examples:
1. If we take too long to feed him in the morning, he will make himself throw up.
2. He loves to eat poop. What’s more, if he knows there is perhaps a stray piece of poop in the yard (we try to pick it up all right away), he will refuse to come inside.
3. He barks all. the. damn. time.
4. He’s never not staring at me.
Ok, I guess I can’t necessarily call this buttheadedness intentional, but it feels intentional–so much so that I basically view Shooter as my household nemesis determined to sabotage my every shot at relaxing or just spending a few minutes not taking care of someone.
It’s a layered complicated relationship, really. And it’s made more complicated when I remember that this damn dog is going to die someday, and I’m going to be really sad when it happens.
I took Shooter to the vet last week for his annual checkup. He needed his rabies vaccine, and the prescription for his epilepsy medication requires a blood panel every six months. Shortly after we arrived, Shooter looked like this:
Because he is a rude and cranky old man. He spent the remainder of the appointment slamming his face into my legs, trying to get the muzzle off of his face–that is, when he wasn’t alligator rolling every time the vet tried to examine him.
Once we got all the necessary procedures done–a process which left me and our vet sweaty and covered in dog hair–she gave his file a final skim.
“Ok, so Shooter is almost 11, I see.”
“Yep. He’ll be 11 in the spring.”
“Well, he looks really good for his age and his size,” she said. “He’s probably got a couple more years left in him.”
I think she meant that as a good thing, but I was stunned. Because, apparently, it hadn’t yet occurred to me that Shooter is, in fact, not immortal.
“Oh. Ok, well a couple years is good,” I stammered in reply.
We chatted a bit more about possibly increasing the dosage of his medication, what we can do to help his gross-disgusting breath, and what not. I mostly heard what she said, but as I walked out, I found myself kind of in a daze.
Holy shit, this dog is going to die one day. One day soon-ish.
I mean, I know I knew that, but it was the first time it really registered with me. We got Shooter shortly after we got married, so he’s been with us for the whole ride. If he’s old, that means we’re old (meaning our marriage–although Ross and I are both starting to feel pretty old these days, too). And when he goes, when we say goodbye to him, it’ll be like saying goodbye to that first iteration of us.
Damn dog. Now instead of just making me crazy, he’s making me cry, too.