It's 45 degrees out and I'm sitting in the front yard, enjoying a little sunshine before the freezing weather returns later today, taking a much needed emotional break from tending to Spike, our 12-year-old great dane mix who is in the house suffering right now. I'm journaling and watching the two remaining semi-feral kitties play. (Sadly, Lillian, the third kitten, a precious little girl, got hit by a car a few weeks ago, leading me to start allowing these cats to sneak into our bedroom window and sleep in our room on the freezing cold nights). This has turned into a routine. The kitties hang out in our room, going in and out of a slightly-ajar window to eat and go potty outside. They haven't had access to any other part of our house, but they're now sharing the front yard with our dogs; only the dogs don't even realize it, because they've never been introduced!
It's so odd sitting here watching the cats play, considering this is what I've enjoyed doing for the past 12 years with my three dogs. The kitties make sure the coast is clear--that I'm the only one in the yard--then they slip through the picket fence and their fun begins: they chase each other, wrestle, hide in the bushes and dart out again, take pottie breaks, chase each other some more, and look over at me to make sure that I'm paying attention--just like a couple of toddlers, only these two cats are teenagers by now, I guess. I can't help feeling guilty for laughing out loud.
12-year-old Spike has been struggling to stand up on her own for two weeks, apparently as a result of a degenerative disc disease which has decided to rapidly take over. Spike is a gentle, stoic dog, now reduced to being hoisted up by her haunches with a large sheet wrapped around her hips just to get up long enough to go to the bathroom. The vet thinks that with treatment, ie laser therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic and meds, Spike may get better (or not), but it will take about two weeks of intense treatment to find out. Lily, our 11-year-old great pyrenees suddenly hurt her back leg on our walk today, and keeled over onto her side where she lay without moving for a good five minutes while Steve ran home to get the truck. Fortunately, she stood up again and limped home on her own. I guess we'll know in a day or two if she is okay. 10-year-old Shortie has begun to limp as well.
So, I'm facing the not-so-far-off end of my dogs' lives, while experiencing the joy of watching the kittens' youthful enthusiasm. I remember when my dogs were young and rambunctious, hiking with me at Edwin Warner, chasing squirrels, and leaping up on the bed with ease. Back in the house, as I type this, tears running down my cheeks, Shortie hears me sniffle, looks up and limps over to me, concerned. She hates it when I cry.