Burning Up Fast

Photo by Christopher Michel.
Photo by Christopher Michel.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post was written a few weeks before Scooby Doo aka Escobar Durango’s passing.

My dog is dying.

Right there in front of me, inch by inch at first and now yard by yard, my dog is dying.

He’s 14 or 15, nobody can be sure because he came from the pound way back when. The pound named him Mick and I named him Scooby Doo, later Escobar Durango for long. He’s as good a dog as you could hope to share your time with.

Oh, he used to chew on textbooks when he was nervous, and he’ll still get in the trash when nobody is looking, if there’s something irresistibly odiferous in there. The plastic that ham comes wrapped in, for example. But what do you want? He is, and has been his whole life, a dog: over-specified to live by his nose.

Today we went for what is probably his last car ride. He’s too old for walks, hasn’t been able to get very far for a few weeks now. Today he couldn’t even climb into the back of the car. I had to lift him. Which is fine, except it is much harder to lift him out again. He used to be too heavy for such antics at all, only the poor old guy has lost almost all his weight.

That’s how I know he is dying. He has essentially stopped eating. I can interest him in the occasional peanut butter sandwich or in some beef broth, sometimes.

I don’t think he knows he is dying. Who can say what dogs know though, really? Truthfully? He doesn’t seem to be in any particular pain, not that I can tell anyway, not that he tells me. He seems content, thumps his tail on the ground when I interrupt his napping to tell him he’s a good dog, isn’t whining or showing any signs of distress. Sometimes he falls and can’t get his feet back under him and I have to right him, send him on his way, and he seems more confused than upset about any of that.

See, as far as he is concerned, he still has the same day-to-day business he’s always had. Getting pets, begging for snacks, roaming the back yard, watching for his people through the front window when everyone goes out. He isn’t dying, he’s living.

There are numerous blessing here. He is, for example, fading fast and all at once. Three weeks ago he could run around the block. One week ago he still chased a ball. Yeah, not for long. So what? And we have ample time to say good bye, to be grateful for all the love we’ve had, the fun times. Camping, hiking, visiting the coffee drive-through to see if they had a cookie for him (today they did not). And yeah, the textbook eating thing, which is funnier now than it was 13 years ago.

Goodbye mostly consists of palliative care. I don’t know that he hurts but I sneak doggie-aspirins into his peanut-butter sandwiches anyway. And spoiling. We don’t need to worry about him learning bad manners any more. Have all the bad manners you want, Scoobs. Hardly matters now, old pal.

We won’t have another dog in the family. Messy things that shed hair and want to go outside at 3am and pee on the carpet when there are fireworks in the neighborhood, which is always, all Summer. You need a housesitter if you want to go anywhere. I’m a selfish man, a writer, prickly about my time and isolation. No, no more dogs or cats or babies.

But really, in a place I don’t really want to examine too closely, I just don’t want to have to say goodbye to any more friends, let anyone else get so close to me as Escobar Durango.

It’s been a good life, I think. I’m going to sign off more and go make sure it still is.

— Jason Dias

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