Tuesday, December 10, 2013

When a dog is not good for an older person

I know the conventional wisdom—the outside of a dog is good for the inside of a person, animals soothe us and lower our blood pressure, on and on.

Not all animals.

Saturday, my dog Jim went to an adoption event at Petsmart with a young couple whose life is rescuing dogs. I have had Jim six years, but I can no longer manage him.  I heard of older people giving up animals—how could they, I thought. Now I know how they could.

First some back story. Six years ago, my right retina detached. I was in restaurant—my eye filled with blood that gushed up and down like a lava lamp. Eventually, I had surgery—and the instructions for after care were so sketchy, it sounded like even looking at my beloved dog Spencer could cancel out the surgery. I gave him to a young man who worked for me to keep until I could walk around the house better.

When it came time to reclaim  my “heart,” the young guy paused. He didn’t have Spencer. What? He ran away. No, he was in an accident—the young man had buried him. Could I see where? Well, he forgot exactly where.

I never learned what happened to Spencer. But he was gone. Gone, gone, gone. I cried so much we asked the eye surgeon would it hurt my eye. He shrugged—crying was on the outside, he said.

Three more surgeries followed, and finally, that eye was blinded.

I went on Craigslist—just looking at dogs, nothing serious. Boy was that an exercise in weirdness. I can’t even get into it all.

Eventually, I found a small poodle mix someone had found in a 7-Eleven parking lot. Spencer was a large poodle mix, a Benjy type. Not fair to compare, I told myself.

This little mutt became my Jim, named after a friend. He wasn’t a brain trust. He also wasn’t housebroken that you’d notice—you have to keep mental checklist of his goings-out. He did not like toys. He begged for people food aggressively almost leaping onto the plate.  Sometimes he would stand and stare at you for hours.

As the years passed and my arthritis grew worse, he became a lot to handle. He was always a foot in front of me. He thought his name was Move Jim. Usually with another MOVE added.

During TV time, he ambled around the house in a circuit, around, in a room, out,  back and forth. Always moving. Still he never liked being leash-walked even when I could take him out.

He was stressing my brain, my blood pressure, my knees—to the door, no, wait, yes, to the door, no, in the kitchen, forget the door.

So I decided in favor of myself. Yes, I felt a little disloyal. But I also felt it’s time.

The one thing I did know is he wouldn't be going to be bait for fighting pit bulls or  mistreated.  This young couple is a stickler for good homes.

And those two are angels in disguise, it turned out. Jim got adopted by a couple with a 13-year-old son. They bought out the store with treats and gear for him. The father is named Jim, so Jim the Dog is to become Jim Junior—or J.J.

Peace reigns.

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