***If you missed installment #5, click here.
To start from the beginning, click here.
SIXTH AGE: “…the slipper’d pantaloon, with spectacles on nose and pouch on side, his youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide for his shrunk shank; and his manly voice turning toward childish treble, pipes and whistles in his sound…”
God, in His wisdom, when He set out His Plan,
Must have thought it important to give the age-edge to Man,
For every year that a dog lived, a man would get seven,
Was God saving the best seats for dogs up in Heaven?
Or, did He know, that having a pet would be pricey?
Between feeding and vet bills, things could really get dicey,
So He put it (in small print) a lasting provision,
Placing Mankind in charge of any ‘last-call‘ decision.
I prayed that I’d never be faced with the fact
That I’d draw the curtain after Nick’s final act,
The bond was so strong between me and my Pal,
How could I do it when things weren’t so swell?
Yet I knew…
In my heart the way Life deals the truth,
I’d be there for my bud when he grew long in the tooth…
And so it was…
At age twelve, Nick was slower and sore,
‘Still a youngster!” you say, well… no…84!
He’d developed arthritis and an X-ray showed lumps,
(Like me, years ago), he felt down in the dumps,
He couldn’t stop panting; he seemed lost in space
And restless, for hours, he did nothing but pace…
We had sought out professional prognosis,
Thinking Niki the victim of some senile neurosis?
“He’s constantly thirsty; he’s peevish and antsy,
And he barks out whenever it tickles his fancy.
His eyesight is fading; his hearing is poor,
And he won’t make the effort to go outside anymore…
And that lump you removed, has begun to regrow,
Doc,” I asked meekly, “Is it Nick’s time to go?”
said the vet, with deliberate pause,
“Niki has Cushing’s, that’s the probable cause
Of his panting…This lump, though, I cut out way back… when?”
I thought for a second…”It was when he was 10.”
“Yesss…It’s most likely cancer…so I’ll leave it you?
We can keep Nick alive for a year…maybe two.”
“Let’s do it!” I said, “he’s not ready…I know!”
“You sure?” “Yes! I’m sure. Let’s get on with the show…”
The decision was made; I didn’t mind the expense
For the dollars I’d spend to buy time, just made sense…
The surgery went well; Niki’s will was undaunted,
Redeeming good health was what everyone wanted;
Within weeks he’d recovered with a new sense of vigour,
We were back in the saddle: Roy Rogers and Trigger!
For the next several months, Nick had found his old groove,
Though a tiny bit slower, he’d gone all out to prove
That age is a number, he was young-at-heart still,
(Of course, forgetting to factor the power of his pill)
Which he hated, and like mosts kids, he would refuse,
Till it dawned on me one day: “I know what I’ll use!”
Yes, it worked, and the new taste sent Nick’s heart in a flutter,
I owe it all to the good folks, who make Kraft Peanut Butter…
Organic of course, Niki still knew the difference
He had a nose for the good stuff – a sixth sense I call ‘snifference‘.
But all things have a shelf life; there was no use denying,
I could feel in my soul…my best friend – was still dying…
There were times…
I felt guilty…Had I been his supplier?
Was I putting a patch on a used, worn-out tire?
Which, at best, you’d agree is a temporary fix,
And besides, Nick had managed to reach 96…
It was comforting to know Nick had given his all,
And was ready, I decided, for his last curtain call.
For age, like the ocean, had worn down the shore,
Eroded the coastline ’til there wasn’t much more,
It’s the way God intended and there’s really no choice,
Time had whittled his body and softened his voice.
SEVENTH AGE: “…second childishness and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything…”
It’s sad to see someone you love become ill,
Whose life is dependent on some stupid pill,
And so, after Christmas, of two thousand and seven,
I helped my best friend find his pathway to Heaven…
There, in the vet’s room, I felt less than a man,
Niki lay on the table, ( I think he knew the plan),
The vet slipped him the needle and then left us together
To face, for the last time, this bad bout of weather…
“It’s all right Nick…you can go now… you’ve done everything right.
You’re a good boy…I love you…close your eyes now – say goodnight”…
And I bent down, said a short prayer and I gave him a kiss…
It was Nick’s turn to speak: it went something like this…
“I know it’s the hardest thing friends have to do,
Saying goodbye to me, saying goodbye to you,
But you saw me grow weary with each passing week,
And you did with your heart what my words could not speak”…
Outside, (it was evening), I saw snowflakes so white,
Like angels, that had come down, to see things were right,
And I swear, Niki’s spirit, was in their midst, all aglow,
Smiling back at me , knowing, it was his time to go…
“I’ve found Heaven my friend; I’ve been in It since birth,
When you found me; I found you; yes, it’s right here on Earth,
The angels just told me (when it came push to shove),
What we thought was Heaven, is Unconditional Love,
And that’s what you gave me, through good times or bad,
Believe me, you were the best thing this dog ever had…
We’ll always be together, from finish to start
You’ll be part of my soul; I’ll be inside your heart…
I do have to go now, I’ll be back soon – we’ll talk,
An Angel just asked me to go for a walk…
I hope I don’t shock her, if I do…you know what…”,
“Time to leave now, Tricky Niki”…(“Psst, she forgot Poopie Butt!”).
The snow had stopped falling and in that brief moment fleeting,
Nick had gone for his last walk – his heart had stopped beating.
I couldn’t help thinking; through those tears came a smile
My dear Nick, now an angel, had gone out in pure style…
And it’s true, since that night we went our separate ways,
As the minutes turn to hours and the hours into days,
As summer brings the sunshine and those winter winds grow colder
My beloved dog still walks with me, his paw upon my shoulder.
The end… is to love.