Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Helping Andrew's Mother

Since we got back from the lake on Sunday evening, Andrew and I have been helping Andrew’s mother.

Yesterday morning, Andrew and I engaged in a major bout of food shopping, visiting three different food stores in order to stock up for the week. We brought home enough food to feed forty persons for a fortnight.

Minneapolis has excellent food stores, the finest I have seen anywhere. The stores are very spacious and very well-designed—and very upscale—and are comprehensively stocked, as well as stocked with items of the highest quality. There are no comparable food stores in Boston.

Yesterday afternoon, Andrew and I did yard work. We mowed the grass, trimmed the edges, weeded a couple of flowerbeds, and attended to shrubbery. The work took us all afternoon.

This morning, we ran additional errands for Andrew’s mother.

This afternoon, we gave the dog a bath and took him to the veterinarian for his six-month appointment. He had his hips and joints examined, as German Shepherds must.

The dog is fine. The dietary supplements he began taking last year and the mild anti-inflammation medications he was prescribed at the time seem to be doing the trick in addressing his mild arthritis as well as preventing onset of hip dysplasia.

The veterinarian assured us that the dog should have no problems for a few more years. It will be in the last year of the dog’s life, the veterinarian said, that problems with the dog’s arthritis and joints will begin to cause discomfort and impair his mobility. It is to be hoped that continued use of anti-inflammation medications shall be sufficient to address the dog’s needs until he dies peacefully in his sleep at some grand old age.

If they receive good care, German Shepherds generally enjoy a lifespan of twelve-to-fifteen years.

Rex is now nine years old. The veterinarian told us that Rex should be completely fine for at least three more years. However, at age twelve, thirteen or fourteen, Rex will begin to experience deterioration in his mobility and, within twelve months of that event becoming significant, will probably die of old age (unless humans must intervene and administer an end to his suffering sooner).

I don’t know what Andrew’s mother would do without Rex. He is at her side all day. He keeps her company no matter what she’s doing.

If she’s cooking, he sits down on the kitchen floor and watches her. She always talks to him while she’s cooking (and generally offers him tidbits of whatever she is preparing).

If she’s cleaning the house, he follows her from room to room and watches her.

If she’s running errands, she takes him with her (unless one of the stops will be a prolonged one).

If she’s at the computer, he sits on the day bed alongside and snoozes.

Whenever she goes to see her grandchildren, he goes with her.

In the evenings, the dog sits between Andrew’s parents in the kitchen while they sit and talk, or read, or listen to music. They talk to him while he sits between them, and pet him all night.

It will be a great loss, for Andrew’s mother and for everyone, when the dog is no longer with us.

Now that the dog is nine years old, or about two-thirds through a normal life span, everyone realizes that he has less time in his future than in his past. Occasionally we comment upon this fact.

It is very sad even to contemplate life without Rex. His character and personality are as distinct as those of a human being. He is very loveable, and undyingly loyal. He’s also a great deal of fun.

When Rex leaves us, Andrew’s parents will not get another dog.

Instead, after Rex is gone, Alec and Lizbeth plan to get a dog. That way Tim and Helena will be able to grow up with their own dog in their own household.

Tomorrow, Tim and Helena will come over to spend the day with Andrew and me and Andrew’s mother—as well as the dog.

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