My Frieda is old. She’s probably 13 or 14 years old, but it’s not really about years. Last week, if you asked me, I would have said Frieda was getting old. But this week it’s different, something in her changed where she went from getting old to being old. Signs of aging have been gradual, loss of hearing, excessive licking of her painful joints, difficulty getting up, not being able to take walks, having a hard time getting up the stairs, occasional loss of bowel control. These things came on gradually and until now I saw them as normal old dog behavior.
A few weeks ago, I even tried to communicate with her. I figured if I could do it with the donkeys I could surely do it with Frieda. So I sat by her bed and held her head in my hands and in my mind asked her if she was in much pain, if she was ok or if she was done with all of this. Then I opened my mind and heart to her and waited. In moments, words came into my head. “Leave me alone, I’m retired.” Then I got an image of her enjoying food, not necessarily her dog food which she often leaves in her bowl, but the dog treats. She’s actually become a treat hound as if it’s the only thing she’s still really interested in. (She gave up 0ne of her favorite things, barking at people when they come in the house, over the summer). So I decided to trust those words I heard and the image I saw. It felt right to me.
Until yesterday. And it’s hard for me to explain what happened. It’s not like she suddenly can’t make it up the stairs or stand up or anything like that, even though her old dog behavior is more pronounced. It’s more like a change in her psyche. Not something concrete I can name, but a sense of confusion coming from her to me. As if a part of her, an essential part, is no longer there. Frieda has always been a determined dog who knows what she wants and doesn’t want and lets everyone else know too. Now it’s as if she no longer knows what she wants and is just going through the motions.
Frieda is physically uncomfortable, probably in pain much of the time. And her body is failing in obvious and measurable ways. And it’s these things along with this new feeling, this communication that I’m getting from her that’s making me think about what happens next. And I don’t think she’s ready to leave the earth just yet. But now, I do believe that when she is ready I’ll know. I’ll hear it, see it, feel it or all three. Because my bond with Frieda is that tight and I trust it completely. In the past there were many things I didn’t want to know, so I hid from them, denied them, didn’t trust myself when I knew the truth. But I have no intention of doing that with Frieda. She’s been too good to me, we’ve been too good for each other to stop now.