I don’t like to admit it, but I am slowly failing. I know it, Mom knows it, but we don’t talk about it.
Remember I barked a few months ago that my cogs aren’t working right? I mean, I think that’s what the vet said. Cognitive dysfunction or something like that.
I get stuck in corners and can’t figure how to back up. I look left and mom turns right and I don’t have a clue where I am or where to go.
A couple nights ago I wandered off in the dark. Mom looked everywhere for me and finally found me staring at the garbage can. I was only twenty feet from the back door but I could have been on the moon. I just couldn’t find my way home.
I can’t say that I am particularly disturbed by my mental decline. It has not affected my appetite or desire for affection. I remain steadfast in my quest to follow mom wherever she goes. As long as I can trot along behind her, I am happy.
As the sharp images of past memories fade, I am left with feelings without detail. For example, I remember a time of hunger and neglect. I was afraid. But I do not recall where I lived or who owned me.
The next period is a blank space. Perhaps I was hit by a car or dumped off by people who considered me worthless. I was picked up by a stranger and taken to the animal shelter, where I was told my life would end.
I was hungry and in pain but I can’t remember where I hurt. I had lost all hope and held no expectation for a better life.
Then kindness claimed me. I was accepted into a new family with others of my kind. Some were young and frisky. One was old and fearful. I was assured I had value and would never be without a home again in this life.
Asher, Tess and Jack. Those names I can remember. Names from my past are long forgotten. I was given a new name, Nellie. It is quite elegant, don’t you think? And I have a nickname! Baby. It’s wonderful to have a nickname, even if it’s a silly name. They call me Baby because I am so much smaller than the other dogs.
How ironic to have two new names and be too deaf to hear them. And now, as my cogs dysfunction, I am lucky to remember that I am Nellie.
Perhaps in time I will lose all sense of self. But I will never forget how love feels. With my last breath I will give thanks that kindness and love came to me, however late in life. I may forget my name and the names of those around me, but I will not forget the sweet silly wonderfulness of being loved.
Forgive me, but I must quickly end this bark. The others are moving towards the sleeping room and I must follow. For once they turn the corner and I lose sight of them, I cannot find my way. I must go now, so that I may be close to those who love me.