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A pet's final days are a delicate balancing act

When you're dealing with a dying dog in the house, there is no such thing as business as usual. This is where the realization of the full commitment that owning a pet is hits you square in the face.

I know there are some people out there who don't get as emotionally involved with their animals as the rest of us do and feel very strongly about NOT spending a lot of time, money or trouble on animals. You are entitled to your beliefs, as I am mine. But for those who make offensive, disparaging remarks about what I need to do for my dog, let me just say  I'm not sure we can be friends.

Lulu's condition continues to deteriorate, and her days are surely numbered. Again, we are doing that delicate walk where I'm trying to honor her, the love and loyalty she has given, consider her comfort and quality of life, and the potential disruption to the household, which is, at this present moment, only me. So far I'm able to handle it.

Her mouth cancer has taken a surprisingly quick turn, and she quit eating last week  not, I believe, by choice, but because it is too difficult. So now we are experimenting with the likes of chicken broth, baby food and other soft human foods, none of which have been very successful.

Maggie is watching closely and has learned to lurk just far enough away to fool me, then move in when I'm not watching and lap up whatever food it is that Lulu has rejected. That bad dog can be upstairs asleep under the bed, but if I run to the bathroom, the food is gone by the time I get back to the kitchen.

I have a suspicion that Maggie is doing a silent Dominant Dog intimidation that is not helping matters, but I can't prove anything.

The house looks like an infirmary. I have clean dog towels and pads laid out where Lulu sleeps, which is always right next to where I sit. There's a possibility of an onset of profuse bleeding, which comes on suddenly and makes an alarmingly swift mess, making my living room look like a crime scene in a bad cop show. Those episodes come and go, and I have established what I consider to be a fairly impressive cleanup routine.

She seems to be shutting down and is sleeping a lot.

Last week I got her groomed, possibly for the last time. She may be sick, but she's still a pretty, fluffy little poodle with a sweet face.

As they say, looking good is feeling good. At least that's what I was going for.

So the days are slow and sweet, and the time I have with her is precious and simple. It's sitting on the couch with her sleeping up against my leg, just like she always has. Every now and then, it's me at the kitchen table, with her on the orange chair, her entire face and body pointed straight at me, eyes on me until she gives up and curls to sleep in the chair.

Life is going on, but this is what's happening right now. As for tomorrow, there are no guarantees.

Kind of like real life.

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