I watch her watch him with a heart of grief,
Confirmed by copious tears near twice a day.
Death’s slowly coming, nothing like a thief
But obvious and clumsy, in the way.
Kenyon goes blithely on, although his hips
Tremble every time he tries to stand.
If dogs were boats he’d be a foundering ship
Half sunken, soon to beach upon the sand.
We’ve taped one foreleg, it seems to help him walk
Though walking makes his respirations soar.
She’d like to keep him tied up at the dock
But there’s no rope to hold him anymore.
He is her service dog, the two are one.
Who will hear for her when he is gone?
For those who followed our adventures in Mexico, where Kathleen and I both ended up in jail in fighting to retrieve Kenyon from the grip of our greedy former maid, today’s sonnet is familiar in subject. Kenyon’s in the winter of his years now, and sometimes it seems a weekly proposition as to whether we may have to put him down. Believe me, we are doing everything in our power to keep his quality of life at a level commensurate with being alive. Besides the pain medication he takes, we frequently take him swimming, which he still does unbelievably well, chasing his bottle through river and ocean currents as far as sixty yards and faithfully bringing it back to land, where he drops it like a trophy after we praise him.
He is such a noble animal, partly because Kathleen raised him from a puppy. Their bond gets stronger every day. Kenyon will hardly leave her side anymore. I used to let him out in the morning, but now he won’t come down until Kathleen wakes. I don’t know how he holds his bladder. Unfortunately, when he goes out now, I have to follow him, since a neighbor returned him the other day from the treacherous two-lane by our house where she found him sitting in the middle of the roadway. The old boy gets confused. His hearing is poor. His vision is slightly better, but also on the slippery slope of decrepitude.
Each day Kenyon goes on is sweeter for the paucity of days he has remaining, but his approaching fate rips Kathleen’s heart out. I’ve never seen a human being so bonded to an animal and vice-versa. Then bonding with animals is one of Kathleen’s gifts. As a deaf person her sense of touch and observation of visual clues in animals is astounding, and they respond to her like no one else. I hope someday she can find work in handling animals. As I’ve said before, the only thing better than being Kathleen’s husband is to be her dog. I cannot fathom the depths between them, just watch in wonder as she brushes Kenyon’s coat, which is, incidentally, still shining.
As for my mood, the reader has no doubt observed that for two days I have been writing about things beside myself, which is an excellent sign. But I am still in somewhat of mixed state; I am anxious about nothing and my head is filled with self-accusatory chatter to which I must sometimes say out loud, “Fuck you!” As long as one recognizes the voices to be not-self but unfortunate childhood programming, acceptance is possible, however difficult. What choice do I have? My father was a belligerent asshole and my mother was a repressive perfectionist. Add the manic-depressive gene to the mix, from both sides of the family, and you have a recipe for disaster. Nevertheless my three sibs and I are all doing well. That says something about the resilience of the human spirit.
At 1.5 Kilorats,