Mama Pajama and Fat Charlie, photo by Laurie Erickson in May '09
Two of the most wonderful dogs in the world were twelve years old yesterday.
My long time readers will know that these birthdays are more special to me than one would expect. (How could any dog's twelfth birthday be any more special, you could rightly ask, but hang on ...)
Fat Charlie had a freak accident at a field trial in April of 2000. His Achilles tendon was severed. That he has all four legs is a testament to the veterinary care (including two surgeries) he received. He even got to race one more time. Watching him chase toys as he wears an I-dare-you-to-catch-me smile on his twelfth birthday face, is oh so good for my heart.
Most readers know that Mama Pajama was scheduled to be euthanized on May 12, 2003. She had a horrid autoimmune disease, neutriphilic vasculitis. She lost most of her ears, a lot of her kidney function, and one of her lungs to the illness. After six years of managing the disease with steroids, she has at long last been able to go without prednisone for the past three months.
She is silly again. She now does whippet spins (just picture a top - if you're old enough, or a speeding bicycle tire gone horizontal if you're not) out in the yard, purely for the fun of it. She takes the time to chew her food, no longer feeling starvation brought on by the corticosteroids.
And, after six years, she's continent again.
The little whippet who was once the #1 AKC Lure Coursing whippet in America, who can tell a story with the best of them, and who is the inspiration for the main character in my novel is twelve and she feels great!
To celebrate, I took Mama Pajama and Fat Charlie, and Easy and Spice (both of whom will also be twelve in October) out to the Kennel Club property to run. No young'uns! Just the four old friends. The weather gods were respectful of the importance of the day; they lowered the temperature by eight degrees and the humidity by 40%, and even threw in a cooling breeze to show their magnanimity.
There were games of keep away. (Easy, left, Fat Charlie with toy)
Easy: "My toy!"
Fat Charlie: "I got this one!"
Spice: Zooooooooom!!! Too fast for you!!!
When Mama Pajama was very ill, she wrote this:
My human Patience is a terrible worrier. She worries that she’s not doing enough to make me comfortable. They tried another new medicine, but it started to mess up my kidneys like the one that almost killed me, so they stopped it right away. I have Patience lift me into her lap – I can’t jump even into her lap anymore – and I try so hard to make her listen. I tell her it’s not the length of a life that’s important; it’s the living of it. I tell her how much I have loved every moment of my life, even now. I tell her that those of us souls who are highly evolved enough to have been dogs, know that worry is a sinful waste of energy and life.
And I tell her, as best I can, the Good Universe gave her to me and that I love her, and that I know she loves me, and that is enough. The rest we must simply accept as it comes, with courage and dignity, as all the worrying in the world won’t change a thing.
And then I lick her leaky face.