Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bootsie, recovered

My dog Bootsie had a tooth extraction this week that required her to be put under anesthesia. I was extremely nervous about this. A few years ago my aunt's Yorkie was put under anesthesia for a teeth cleaning and didn't wake up. My aunt's dog was not even as old as Bootsie, who is 11.

But there wasn't really an option not to do it, as the vet said the foul smell from Bootsie's mouth would continue and an infection might spread throughout her body if her tooth wasn't removed. I looked up the procedure on Google and it seemed safe, apart from a few horror stories.

I buried my nose in Bootsie's furry neck and kissed the top of her head the morning my mom took her to the vet. What would I do without Bootsie? The sight of Bootsie wagging her tail and her eyes lighting up when I get home from work makes me feel human again after a long day. There is no sight I'd rather see than Bootsie fetching her rope toy from her "toy chest" when she is excited, inviting you to play with her. In those moments I can believe there is such a thing as pure joy. When I have lied down on the carpet out of utter exhaustion it is Bootsie who comes to comfort me. Before I leave for work in the morning the last thing I do is run my hands through her black fur and look into her eyes. I love this dog. No, I don't think "love" is too strong a word. To think about losing her is just so hard to fathom.

I got home Thursday not having received a frantic call from my mother, and took this as a good sign she would be OK. I found her in her usual spot on the couch. Her eyes were scared and the fur around her face was all matted inside the white cone around her neck, but she was animated and above all alive. Oh, Bootsie, you are alive to see another day. Thank you, God.

This week I found myself asking, is it worth it to get so attached to an animal, only to see her decline and eventually die? What a tremendous grief it will be. On the other hand, thinking of all the good times I've had with Bootsie, every day we have with her is a gift. She has brought joy into our lives every day we have had her for 11 years. That's no way to live, to deny yourself an attachment simply because you fear losing it in the end. In the end we will have to let go, realizing she was never really ours to begin with, and her affection was something we never really deserved in the first place. But fortunately that day is not today, and there is time to enjoy every tail wag, every walk, every nap where Bootsie snuggles up next to you. I *heart* Bootsie.

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