We got our first basset, Desiree, in 1993–the same year I had my son. I think I kind of got busy with the kid and other things and Dez didn’t get the attention she should have had. She died of cancer in 2001, the same year my mom died of the same.
We swore we wouldn’t get another basset, but within weeks we were at Tait’s, and that’s where we found Wilson, or WWW. Wilson Wormtail Woowoo. All he did was whine. His tail was always curled. And he was a very happy puppy. We brought him home and in my desire to find myself, he would go on long, extended walks down Tadpole Road with me in search of adventure. He is the most excellent Walker. Add another W to his name.
As for me, and I’m sure like others, I don’t do well with death. In fact, I’ve gotten most of them out of my way. All grandparents are gone. My mother is gone. All I have left is my dad, two aunts, my husband, brother, some cousins. Kids and grandkids don’t count because they are younger than me and it’s not anywhere I want to go.
I’ve had to go through the death of my dog, Jake, and the bunny, George. But on average, I got the trauma out of the way early. Until Wilson. Jake was entirely my dog–I saved him at the pound and he forever thanked me. I was the only one who missed him. The bunny was our world-traveler and I loved him dearly, but I was allergic to him. Wilson is the one who steals our hearts. He makes it easy to reach out and connect with people. When I have nothing to say, I can talk about him. When most everything sucks in life, he is the shining moment of light. When you need a hug, the basset is there.
So when he started coughing this weekend-on top of his recent labored breathing-it was time to get him in the vet. Visiting Google, I knew it had to do with his recently diagnosed enlarged heart and murmur. He was at the vet in November for some teeth cleaning and they compared his x-rays then to his x-rays now. His heart had grown in size by about 25%.
What does that mean? He’s dealing with congestive heart failure. What does that mean? I don’t really know. At some point, his heart will start to fail and his quality of life will falter. It means a huge source of my joy at some point will be gone. Over the past few days, I haven’t been able to reconcile this information.
At some point, the pain has to stop coming, doesn’t it?
So then I switch to my fantasy mode. You know, that part where everything is all just peachy and keen. I am slim, glamorous, and interesting. My life holds intense meaning. I drink Dos Equis. And Sting sings to me. That grazing touch upon my back was as meaningful as I thought. My lucid dreams come true. And everything is all right. All right. I am the queen of my world. Everything I write is poetry and my tweets all rock.
There is a distinct dichotomy between the real and the sustainable. Some days it’s just hard to tell. One day, I hope they will all resolve themselves into one. I can only hope. And I hope the basset has three more years to live at least instead of just one.