Sedona is an old dog. She's eleven and she's a mix of two large breeds: kuvasz and German shephard. Her face is more white than gold and she moves at a dignified pace. An old injury to her ACL makes it hard to get up steps, and out of bed in the morning. However, it does not slow her down one bit when chasing squirrels and raccoons. She's always been a selective eater, turning her nose up at dinner if the brand and flavor aren't changed on a regular basis. Sometimes, she loses her appetite for a few days. I feed her scraps and eggs in an effort to put some padding around her backbone which is far too obvious when I run my hand through her thick fur. When I step out onto the front porch after dinner she trots up the steps and politely takes the bits of meat from my hand.
Last night, I mixed an egg with a little milk in a bowl and went out onto the front porch. I called and called with Kersey jumping around my feet (Give it to me! Give it to me!) and then I saw her, walking slowly towards me with her head low, her ears hanging limply against her face, and her tail dragging behind her. She put one paw on the bottom step, paused, and then turned and walked away. I took the bowl down to the front lawn where she was standing but she turned her face away. Concerned, I ran my hands over her face, her body, and her legs. I felt no swelling, no moisture, and she gave no indication of pain.
At bedtime, I opened the laundry room door and called the dogs. Kersey came skidding around the corner and up the steps. No Sedona. I walked around to the front porch and found her laying on the front lawn. I called to her again. She looked at me and started to push up with her front legs, then sank back to the ground, looking at me with tired, defeated eyes. I slowly and thoroughly ran my hands over her again. Brett came out and we discussed carrying her into the house, but decided to leave her on the front lawn; her favorite place to be; where she could watch over the house with a clear view of the front gate. She doesn't love coming into the house at night but she does to make me happy. I knew she wouldn't be barking at raccoons so we agreed to leave her in her chosen location.
Brett went to the barn to bring her a bed and I grabbed a throw blanket from the porch. She's an Alpine wolf dog who likes to sleep in the snow but it made me feel better to tuck the faded brown blanket around her. I sat next to her on an edge of the blanket and she rested her head on my lap. I stroked her head and kissed the furrow between her eyes. I told her that I knew she was tired but that I wasn't ready to let her go. She said she wasn't in pain. I kept stroking her face which was damp with my tears and asked her to please wait until Camille comes at Thanksgiving. All I heard back was that she was tired; so, so tired.
I cried some more in the shower and then I wet my pillow with tears. I dreamt the vet, who is coming tomorrow to vaccinate the horses, cancelled our appointment. Next, I dreamt Sedona chased squirrels, ears perked, nose forward, running like a rocket.
We woke early and I went to the window overlooking the front lawn. Sedona was laying on her bed in the middle of the grass. I opened the window and called to her; she lifted her head and looked at me. I swear she smiled. I reluctantly dressed for work and drove off leaving her in Brett's capable care.
She didn't eat breakfast but she followed Brett around all day while he worked on the fences. She lay where she could watch him, moving as necessary to keep him in view. But she didn't chase squirrels, dig holes, or eat her dinner. When I arrived home from work, she greeted me with a slow wag of her tail, a paw resting on my boot, and her face pressed against my thigh. Brett emerged from the back porch door carrying her bowl of egg and milk. He said, "maybe she'll eat it for you." And she did. Every last drop.
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