Last week, I talked about our new daily ritual, taking a walk as a family. It's nice bonding time for Jim and I and the dogs, plus it's good for Indiana's arthritis and Isis'...ummmm...winter weight. The only problem is that Indy can't walk as far as Isis, so she and I turn around and sit in the grass and wait for Jim and Isis to come back. I love watching Indy watch for Isis, and it makes me feel special, getting to spend time all alone with my girl.
Indy usually is happy to turn around, because walking is hard work for her. It usually takes a little coaxing to get her to actually turn back. She wants to continue with Jim but knows she can't. Most days I take this in stride, but yesterday, it broke my heart.
Indy turned around willingly, but then she turned back to watch Jim and Isis, who were at that point running off down the road. I could tell that Indy wanted desperately to follow, to be able to run along side Isis as she used to. But I could also tell that she knew it was impossible. I wanted nothing more, in that moment, more than I've wanted anything in a long time, for her to be able to continue after her sister. My heart was breaking for her, and I was helpless to make it better. I bent down and hugged her and said, "I'm so sorry you can't go with."
We made our way over to the grass and sat down and watched for their return. I gave Indy a massage while we waited, and she seemed content to sit there and wait. (She's always engrossed in watching for them, obsessed really)
Jim and I work really hard to make sure that Indiana is at peace with her aging body. Our vet warned us that frustration could be the worst thing for her; a frustrated dog is a miserable dog. So we take great pains to bring her comfort and keep her mind occupied. In that moment yesterday, I wondered what she was thinking. Did she understand why her body wouldn't move the way she wanted it to? Did she understand that we're doing everything under the sun for her? Did she know that I would give anything, anything, to make it better?
I don't want to sound ungrateful. In less than a month, my girl will reach the huge milestone of turning 13 years old, a feat for any large-breed dog, let alone one who was supposed to die at 8. I know that this is a miracle, and that every day with her is a gift. I really do. But some days, I am selfish. I want more, more more. I want Indy to be able to walk like a normal dog, to get up at every whim, to wander around the yard aimlessly and with no purpose.
Aging is a process, both mental and physical, for the pet as well as the caretaker. We as parents have to come to terms with aging, to fight it and stall it the best we can, but ultimately, to accept that it is a part of living. Because the alternative isn't something we want. I am thankful that Indiana is still alive to age, and I will spend the rest of her living days making them the best they can be.