Someone said they heard George Carlin make the statement that to own a dog is to invest in a mini-tragedy. Never is this more true than when that beloved canine reaches the end of its life. Enter my old beautiful Siberian Husky, Pashka, who celebrates her 14th year with us, which makes her nearly 16 years old! How ironic that the week of this anniversary she took a turn for the worse, her unsteady back legs that usually trotted along gave out on her and she generally looked weak and pained. We were afraid that the vet would suggest we put her down but as he examined her he confirmed that although she can't see or hear well, her real problem is extreme arthritis in her back hips and spine. With medication she can be given a measure of relief and we feel maybe an extension of her life with us.
She's had perhaps one of the best winters of her life since we moved to Minnesota, being able to romp in the snow and walk on the frozen lakes--give her subzero weather, the colder the better. She continues to follow me from room to room, like she has these past 14 years and greets me with that one blue eye and one brown eye every morning. I'm just not ready to let her go and my fervent prayer is that she just doesn't wake up some morning.
The most striking observation we've made about this old girl is how very stoic and patient she is with her pain and discomfort--no moaning, whimpering or even growling and snapping in pain. And I've learned that her not showing pain and drawing attention to oneself is true pack behavior learned from her cousin the wolf. If anyone caught on that she was falling behind or in pain, she would be a prime target to be taken out by a member of the pack or a predator from without. All this is done in the name of keeping the pack strong. She's learned her lesson well.