Watching my dog age has been one of the most fascinating and hardest things I’ve ever had to do. We had lots of dogs growing up (RIP Saide, Snickers and LeRoy, and their 10 pups, Claire, and Gabby) but my mom always had the responsibility of dealing with their end of life care, not me.
I very distinctly remember Saide dying when I was five. Sitting on the basement stairs sobbing with my brother while Saide laid at the landing on her way out. By the time we woke up the next morning, she was gone.
Many of you know my dog, Lexi. Maybe because she's been starring in my Instagram stories over the last few years, sort of as memories for myself but mostly because she still regularly cracks me up and I want to share some laughs.
She turns 17 on July 1st. No, not 17 months. 17 years. Yes, we get asked this question all the time while on walks. We also get asked if she's a wolf. And then when I say 'no', I'm told that she's gotta be at least part wolf. Sure, ok. Most dogs are, right? I've had her since she was 8 weeks old. She was as round and fluffy as a miniature Popple when I got her. Now she's kind of a mess because she won't let the groomer touch her anymore. But I guess we all let ourselves go when we're dying, right?
I'm headed out of town for 12 days later this month and my mom will have dog duty while I'm gone. Dog duty consists of scrambled eggs and pancakes and napping with her bestie, Zoey, an 11-year-old Jack Russel Terrier.
As I was talking to my mom about what food Lexi can and can't eat (no more potato chips), she told me we needed to have "the talk". For a moment, I thought she was talking about the Birds and the Bees. But instead, she was talking about the end of life talk.
I reminded my mom that Lexi is actually a cat with nine lives so she would be just fine while I'm gone. Nothing to worry about! But she wanted to really talk about it just in case. So we did. In true Pederson fashion while cracking jokes and laughing about my dying dog.
Turns out there are multiple options for what to do with a pet's body after they die. I didn't know that. I figured since we have boxes for Claire and Gabby sitting on the kitchen table at the family cabin, they all just get cremated and boxed up. So my mom kept asking if I wanted Lexi in a box or not. I wasn't sure what the other options were. Was she asking if I wanted her stuffed? I mean she would fit nicely on a fireplace mantle.
Turns out she was really asking if I'd want Lexi cremated alone or with other pets. Ok. I obviously didn't know that was an option. Why would I want a box of ashes of random pets?! Nope.
I know now that if anything does happen while I'm gone, I won't return to a stuffed version of my dog or a box of Lexi and all her friends.
Lexi is fine. Today. She is a cat with nine lives and that mostly just means she has a lot of ups and downs. She sleeps a lot but still wakes me up before 6 am and then goes right back to sleep once I'm awake (I write this while she takes her early morning nap). She’s eating again, which is good because she’s lost a third of her weight in the last six months. Her tail is wagging a lot this week (maybe it's the weather?) and I even caught her "running" toward a pigeon yesterday. It was only two steps but it was a good effort.