Today’s post has festered in my brain for days. AWOL for weeks, I needed to reread the last post before I could begin this one. Ach, how could I have forgotten?
For almost six years I’ve written about my husband’s journey along dementia’s twisted paths. Nobby, his golden doodle, has been important to the story. The header on the November 16 post showed Nobby looking glum in a big blue “cone of shame.” Now, sadly, Nobby is gone. Today would have been his twelfth birthday.
His death two weeks ago was not related to the benign lump I wrote about then. That was a good news day. But not long after Thanksgiving Nobby stopped eating, drank little. Without going into all the details, I’ll just say that after two trips to our veterinarian and a two-night stay, then a referral to the university’s vet school plus two more nights, I learned there was nothing to be done, not really. Palliative care with steroids was a temporary fix.
I made Peter a cup of tea then broke the news to him as gently as I could. “Nobby is very poorly,” I said, “he’s not doing well at all.” I fought tears. He took my hand and asked how old Nobby was. When I told him, he said, “That’s old for a big dog, isn’t it? Will I see him again?” I nodded.
And that was that. Peter had been watching tennis when I arrived. He turned back to the tv as if I hadn’t given him dire news. I was relieved and sad at the same time. Relieved he didn’t react badly, but sad that he hadn’t really remembered his seventieth birthday-present dog then, nor for several months prior. Better that he doesn’t remember, I told Carolynn who was torn. She agreed.
Leslie and Martin helped me bathe Nobby with waterless shampoo so that he would be clean for a last visit with Peter. The poor fella had lost weight, but he was still handsome. Peter didn’t really acknowledge him except to pet him a few times. He thought he was their Tillie who was smaller, shorthaired and who’d died eighteen months before.
Nobby was a very special dog who, for eight years, visited five different nursing homes on Wednesdays with Peter and his companion Bill. Anyone who ever met Nobby fell in love with his gentle demeanor, his kind eyes and his fluffy white coat. For the past two years nearly, his therapy dog visits were limited to the facility where Peter lives, with help from Mark, another stellar companion. The eyes of residents and staff alike lit up when Nobby arrived.
Laughs have been scarce these past weeks, but I’ll always be able to laugh remembering how that dog, who supposedly was a “water dog” (golden retriever/standard poodle), was afraid to go in deeper than his knees. He would not— maybe could not—swim, and he didn’t like it when any of his “people” were in the river. I’ve often been asked if he was a good guard dog. No, I’d say, the only time he barks is when we’re in the water and then he’s as annoying as a pack of chihuahuas on a sugar high.
Header photo: Nobby chases after Peter, November, 2017.