Our Heart and Soul
We had no idea what we were doing, but we just knew we needed a dog. We looked forever to find the perfect dog for us and we did . . .
Marley was 11 weeks old when we brought her home. That was in 2001. We had prepared for a while. Bought the best food, got an enormous crate, fancy bed and a ridiculous number of toys. A friend of mine had just started working at a new vet office, Decatur Village Vets. She told us about Dr. Draper and we made an appointment. Only the best for our little girl! Marley did all the right things. She snuggled with us, she stayed close by on walks, she used the bathroom outside, she posed for a 1000 pictures…she was spoiling us and we didn’t even know it. Early on she would just lock eyes with us and let us get right in her space, touching foreheads, all the while thumping her tail on the floor. That tail thump was the best thing ever. Just hearing that, you knew you were being love bombed.
She was, and still is, a people dog. You know how some dogs care about being outside and running around with other dogs? Well, Marley just cares about us. So when we brought another dog into the mix we were a little concerned. But she just kept doing her thing. It was like she was telling Georgia, our Aussie mix, “Hey. Welcome home. This is where we keep the toys. This is the backyard. Don’t worry about food or treats or soft beds – my parents have all of that covered.” She was amazing. And when Georgia was hit by a car, we rushed to Village Vets only to hear it was too late. After literally sitting in Dr. Draper’s lap crying, we brought Marley in to say goodbye and the three of us limped home. TVV was awesome. They called us and wrote us a card. It was like a tail thump. We knew we were loved.
Marley started showing signs of arthritis at about age 10. She just refused to go up the stairs after we moved to a two story house. So now we take her up and down the stairs. Its just what you do. As the years continued to creep up on her, she started having little lumps on her body. One has grown pretty large. Its fine. We’ve had it tested. We call it her “side car”. :) And we kept moving forward. Shortly after Georgia died we brought Emma (an Aussie mix) home. Marley just rolled with it. I mean, if there was anyone that trusts her place in the pack, it is Marley. She mentored Emma as a good big sister should. And now - Emma takes care of her. Because Marley is 14 ½. When you’re a dog and you live past 12 or 13 years old, I think you need to state your exact age when asked. It’s a badge of honor to be 14, but 14 ½?!! That is a freaking accomplishment.
As the years rolled along, we continued with Village Vets. We worked with Dr. Stacy, Dr. Franco and now spend a lot of time with Dr. Prather (who rocks by the way!) and Miss Amber and Miss Rosemary – you know, for our weekly laser treatments! And usually on one of those weekly visits we are picking up some type of medication. Metacam for arthritis pain, Glucosamin and Chondrotin or Adequin for joints and Proin for incontinence. As any senior dog parent knows, its just part of the drill. So, we just kept going.
This year things have kind of piled up on our beautiful senior girl. She started using the bathroom in the house. A lot. It didn’t make anyone happy. I could tell she didn’t want to, but it was frustrating. We weren’t a poo-in-the-house type family.
But as you can guess...we rolled with it. We now wash A LOT of dog blankets and have Clorox wipes strategically placed throughout the house. Also, when you walk into our house you might mistake us for a yoga studio. Only because we have yoga mats all over the floor because the hardwoods were becoming too slippery for Marley to get around. We just want to make her senior years as enjoyable as possible. Carrot treats are given freely. She hasn’t eaten a plain bowl of dog food in years. There are water bowls and beds everywhere. You never know when a senior girl might just decide to lay down. And then get thirsty.:) And if we’ve missed something she just stands and barks at us. Incessantly. Until we figure it out.
But what breaks my heart is that she can't walk around the block anymore. She stays home while Emma gets a walk. And since she can't hear or see well anymore, we often find her staring out the window looking for us to come back. Im thinking of getting her a wagon so she can go with us! Though there aren’t tail thumps anymore (her tail is used more as a rudder for stabilization) and its hard to know if she really sees me as I gaze into her eyes, she still snuggles up like she always has and is still full of unrelenting love for her pack. When she decides to cross the Rainbow Bridge…excuse me…I had something in my eye…Im not sure I will know what to do or how to be. She is often referred to as “the heart and soul of this operation” and Im not sure how to just keep going without that in our lives. -Vicki Smith