There are some things a parent shouldn’t just say to their kid without much context that would be bound to give them a bit of anxiety. “Are you gonna improve your GPA?”; “When are you going to start applying for colleges?”; “We’re moving and you have to change schools”; “I think I want a divorce from your father.”
“It might be time to put our dog to sleep.”
My dog was born in 2002. He’s lived fifteen years. They say a dog’s lifespan is around ten to thirteen years, and smaller dogs are known to live longer. And he’s had a lot to go through in his life. A dislocated shoulder, inability to walk on all four legs, arthritis, and growths (noncancerous, rest assured) to name a few. There seems to be only more as he continues to grow with age. Now it seems he’s having trouble holding his bladder and waiting for one of us to come home from our commute to let him out, instead just going in our house. Every other day, someone’s cleaning up in the kitchen, family room, or hall.
When his bladder problems first started to become habitual, my mom’s been pretty patient and calm with having to clean up his pee. She still scolds him as if he’s a child and he can listen and understand her, but what dog can get away without having one? But now, it seems, it’s been getting to her since, “supposedly,” it’s more unstable than usual. And that’s when she brings up the bomb.
Now, it’s hard to tell if she’s actually serious about this. Sometimes, my mom tends to say things and then she doesn’t follow through. I clearly remember hearing her tell me straight to my face she might split up with my dad after one of their fights, and yet, they’re still married, without any problems. Sometimes a conversation is passed around about a “baby number #3” though infrequent and brief. Yet, I’m still the youngest. There’s a lot that she says which is different than what actually is, and I’m pretty sure most people, not just parents, are like that.
Growing up with a dog is one of the classic staples of a child’s life. The first few years of his life, I adored him and always felt bad whenever we couldn’t take him somewhere and had to leave him in the house. Now, I still do adore him, but it’s at a moderate, subdued level. He’s friendly and playful, once you get to know him, and he may seem vicious and he may try to bite or bark at you, but that’s just him being protective. After he bathes, he has to sprint around the whole house like a crazed maniac and when he gets a haircut, he turns from a big fluff ball to a skinny-legged pup. After meals, I never have to worry about leaving scraps on my dishes cause I can just put it down on the floor and he licks it clean. It also comes in handy when there’s stuff on your plate you don’t particularly want to eat.
Nothing lives forever. The circle of life is that you’re born, you live, and you die. And I understand that. Still, it does seem terrifying and anxiety-inducing when your mom starts to bring up putting your dog down. There's like a slim 25% chance she’ll actually follow through, as evident by most of the things she says, but also, my dog’s lived longer than the average lifespan. Who knows when it’s time?
But until then, I won’t try and dwell on it or think about inevitable, probable last days whenever they may come. I’m just glad I got to spend fifteen years with the dog that’s a playmate, a baby, and (sometimes) a diva all in one.