This won’t be the hardest post to write, just the second hardest.  The Beast has been diagnosed with heart disease—cardiomyopathy to be exact—something that is common in larger breeds.  It’s treatable—he takes so many pills now, it’s like he’s turned into my parents—but science has yet to find a cure in dogs.  If only diet and exercise and a triple bypass were enough.

We always knew our time with the Beast was finite.  George Carlin said that, when you get a dog, “you’re purchasing a small tragedy.”  But now time has become that much more precious.  Tragedy aside, we’ve been awfully lucky to have our Beast.  He, along with the Kid, has been our source of joy, our comfort, and even our social planner.  He’s connected us to so many wonderful people, and I’m not exaggerating when I say he has more friends than I do.  As expected, the Hubs and I are each dealing with the news in our own different ways—I’m crying on the phone with my best girl friends this time, rather than taking up a new instrument, and he’s listening to an awful lot of Tom Waits.

I’m wary of people who view dogs (and cats) as just “pets.”  It’s likely those folks never had a dog.  Pets, in my eyes, are family.  Heck, my dogs have loved and appreciated me more than some family members . . . and vice versa.  My animals have brought as much joy, maybe more, into our lives, and their absence is just as palpable and painful.   I still think of and miss my other dogs, Thor and Grady, every day.

Grady and Thor

It’s too easy to become maudlin and sound like the voice of Doom here. It’s not right, either.  The Beast still lives—he’s feeling even better than before—but life will be different, lived moment to moment.  The Hubs and I agreed to just enjoy our time with him, and we have:  as of this writing, we’re spoiling the Beast rotten with better food, slower walks, and even letting him sleep in the bed.  This sudden turn of events is also giving me a new perspective on what really matters, of who really matters, and just how much we can endure.  I’ve never been a person who enjoys the journey, I’m eager to get to the destination.  But now that I know what the destination holds, the journey is all I got—I better start liking it.  A friend of mine whose two Huskies have been diagnosed with cancer reminded me to just enjoy and love the Beast as much as I can because “we’ll have time to be sad later.”  Besides, look at that face!  How can you stay sad in the presence of that face?

Several friends have asked, “What can I do?”  To that, I say, send good thoughts and positive healing energy to his heart to make it stronger.  I won’t turn away miracles.  Go ahead and send that energy out into the (capital “U”) Universe to help anyone, any being, who might need an extra thought or two—I know the huskies could use your good vibes, as well as a friend whose father has kidney cancer.  Or maybe you know someone who needs a miracle.  Call it prayer, call it meditation, call it intention—it only takes a moment and can be more fulfilling than any smartphone app.

So that’s the story, minus a few technical details.  At this point, I’m done talking about it.  I’m done giving it power.  Of course, that doesn’t mean I won’t jump up in a panic if he wakes me in the middle of the night.  It doesn’t mean you won’t catch me with swollen eyes at the end of a crying jag.  It just means that if you ask, “How the Beast?,” my answer will be the same:  So very loved.