All Dog

This morning, Fido couldn’t get around very well. Our 11-year old Australian Shepherd’s suffering from dual maladies. He’s got some sort of degenerative nerve thing goin’ on in his legs and he struggles with a challenge down in the back of his throat that affects his breathing.

It’s just a matter of time.

These days, Fido spends all his time in the basement, back patio or back yard. He can’t manage the stairs and lately he can’t even get in the house by himself through the doggie door, only six inches off the ground.

Rover, Fido’s running mate, seems to sense it. (By the way, we stayed up all night thinkin’ up names for our dogs). Rovie will have as big an adjustment as Jackie and me.

After the inevitable.

Fido and Rover are polar opposites. Fido was the pick of the litter from Jackie’s sister’s Aussies, Hank and Emmie. We got him in the Spring of ’99, shortly after we got married. After seeing Jackie interact and bond with Fido, I remarked, “Had I known you had this much love for dogs, we’d have gotten one weeks ago.”

Rover was my birthday gift to Jackie four years later. I got her from some Flint Hillbillies in Wabaunsee County, just a section over from the meth lab. We don’t think she was abused, but we’re fairly confident she was neglected, especially during what I was later to learn was the finite human-puppy bonding window.

Today, she’s a little skittish, but generally a happy, contented pooch.

Took Fido to the vet a couple of weeks ago. Normally, my wife solos on vet duty because she speaks their language. I went along this time, in part, I suspect to ask the questions Jackie could not. Lots of options. None very pleasant.

Last week, I heard Fido barking in the backyard. And I drifted back to when he was younger. He’d bark at anything: Squirrels, birds, neighbors, falling leaves. After we fenced in the backyard, it became his domain. He loved to chase sticks and would carry them in his mouth. Once he picked up this massive four-foot branch and hauled that with him a few blocks.

Back then, I remember describing Fido as “all dog.” All of the positive characteristics dogs are supposed to have, Fido had ‘em: Friendly, loyal, happy, energetic.

He’s still friendly and loyal. The energy's waning. I don’t know how happy he is.

Fido’s carefree le

af chasing days are behind him now. My dog is just kind of wearing out.

When we got home from the football game today Fido was right where we left him, on the cool ceramic tile in the basement. He hadn’t moved. He couldn’t really.

But he was wagging his tail and as he looked up at us, his eyes got brighter.