Once more (with caution)

There’s a prolonged heartbreak to loving a senior dog and bearing witness to the sunset moments along the way.

When the muzzle starts to gray

When you switch to mature adult food

When you add supplements

When he doesn’t want to play fetch for as long

When the muzzle starts to silver

When he’ll run after the ball, but not bring it back

When gray appears across his body

When medication is daily

When you realize you haven’t heard his voice in months

When his hearing fades

When you can’t remember the last time he ran

When he doesn’t bound after bumblebees

When the arthritis requires alternative treatments

When long walks become walks to the corner

When it becomes difficult to get up

When car rides are stressful

When yoga mats provide runways through the house

When he can no longer walk up the stairs

When he no longer wants to be carried upstairs

When he restlessly wanders, day and night

When you dredge his dry food into a mushy puree because he no longer has teeth

When he no longer sleeps on your side of the bed

When he occasionally has an accident

When he wears a diaper

When his breathing shifts

When he wears a diaper and a wrap

When you coax him into the yard for fresh air

When you startle him awake and for a moment he doesn’t know who you are

When you try to clean him and he reacts in fear

When he nuzzles your hand with the full weight of his head

With Zozo, there wasn’t a Big Sign. We had to choose the moment for him after weighing the ever-growing list of little signs, hoping that wasn’t too early or too late. Knowing that the air and energy and routine will never be the same again.

Today, he had a full breakfast and wore on a clean, jaunty kerchief. He followed us around the kitchen. He took a couple disco naps. It was a good morning. And then Dr. Abi from Lap of Love joined us. Zozo ate chocolate cake icing with redi-whip. He finally, finally could relax.

Our comedy guy. We love you. Thank you for being ours. Tell MJ we’re ok.