Sunday, October 28, 2007

When the world is up in the air...

Life has been pretty crazy these days. Long story short, my dad has Alzheimer's and has deteriorated beyond the point where mom can take care of him. We found him a lovely residential center, leaving my mom to cope with being alone for the first time in her life.

As if that weren't bad enough, my mom's dog is in failing health. At 14, it really shouldn't be a surprise, but one is never prepared. Not only is her dog Rascal her best friend, she has relied upon him for support for a number of years since she experienced a sudden severe/profound hearing loss. She now has a cochlear implant, but once she takes it off, she is completely deaf. Rascal, an Australian Cattle Dog, being among the brightest of breeds, virtually taught himself to act as her hearing ear dog. What a little guy.

He automatically knew that people are supposed to react when phones and doorbells ring, timers go off, and other little things that we who can hear well rarely think of. In short, he hears for her. At least, he did. But not any more. His ears, right along with his kidneys, are failing, and he has a bladder tumor which is destined to hasten the eventuality of his passing.

Mom has a long history of dog ownership, with each one being an only dog from puppyhood to death, and each one separated by a grief period of about 1 to 2 years. This time, mom knows she cannot wait - she needs that extra set of ears as well as, if nothing else, another living creature under her roof to stave off the demon Loneliness.

I'm not much for emotional support - at middle age, I've become somewhat curmudgeonly and fancy myself as a realist and a pragmatist. This doesn't always win me friends, nor does it greatly influence people and it sure doesn't characterize me as "sympathetic." However, I can train a dog. Mom needs one. This is something I can do for her.

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