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Betsy Block

Stories without recipes

Comeback Kid?

Roxy has never been good when I cry, and this past Monday was no different. Except that, come to think of it, Monday actually was different, because at least one of us knew it could be the last time shed ever have to avoid my sad eyes. That morning, I could tell that something was terribly wrong with her  not only had she thrown up, but she was shaking, drooling, disoriented. Shed had a stroke.

But she eats so well! I said to BD, only half joking.

Shes 100, he replied. And so I suppose she is.

Youd never have known it before Monday. Although shes had some hip pain and a few other complaints, mostly shes remained the same feisty dog whos caused me so much trouble throughout the years. Yes, Roxy and I have had our differences, but weve been together almost as long as BD and I have been married. Shes known both kids their entire lives. To see this proud beast reduced to an animal who could barely walk and seemed so absent  how could it have happened? It was all so fast. Just the night before wed had friends over and she was bugging us as usual; then, the next morning  this.

The worst part wasnt the spasms in her body, trying to figure out how we could make her more comfortable, willing her to eat. The worst part was telling the kids and watching 5-year-old Ps face register a dawning understanding of death. Or was it looking at BD looking at Roxy, who I can honestly say is his best friend? (Aside from me, of course, though Roxy would never admit to being second in line. If she could talk, I mean.) I guess there have been lots of worst parts this week.

But, in the manner of Roxy, in certain ways she has remained fully herself even during the worst of this ordeal. When BD got to the vets office on Monday, he saw two other dogs approaching. Usually, knowing Roxys aggressive ways, hed wait until the other dogs had disappeared into the office before letting her out of the car. But this time? No need. So he brought her out  he had to pick her up and carry her  and just like that, this old girl who couldnt stand was at attention and growling, ready to attack  until her legs collapsed and she fell to the ground. Its hard to believe that local squirrels will cross our yard with impunity for the first time since we moved here a decade ago. It feels so wrong.

Last night, while 10-year-old E was brushing his teeth, he said that while he doesnt want this to be happening, if we dont lose her now, we will sometime soon because shes old. I agreed, then said, Theres a difference between tragic and sad.

And thish is shad, he said. (He was still brushing.)

Right. And the truth is, you dont want anyone you love to die, ever.

But then, he said, holding his brush off to the side and looking over at me, life cant go on.

Though we have always been strict about maintaining a healthy diet with all creatures in our house, last night, Miss Roxy must have thought she was in her very own five-star restaurant. We brought her dish after dish, fervently hoping (but not expecting) shed eat. And then, miracle of miracles, she did: some Greek yogurt here, a little turkey jerky there, cheese, a few bites of egg  This morning her eye seems to have stopped twitching, she hasnt fallen down since yesterday afternoon, and theres a glimmer of her old spark back.

To be continued

Wednesday at noon:
Roxy just gave the mail carrier a scare with her vigorous barking, after having vacuumed up some custom-made hamburger. Yes, the force of her own rage knocked her down, but she was up, tail wagging, within seconds. Those squirrels might not be out of the woods after all ...