She is slowing. Every movement is contemplated well ahead of its execution. There are perhaps only a small number of steps remaining, so each one is measured and weighed for its importance. The body rises from the floor only when the food bowl is fully prepared and heading to Scarlett’s feeding place. We walk together, she and I, carefully. Slowly.
There is still a wag in her tail. But now she stands for only three events: A small bowl of food laced with pain pills and vitamins, a short sunbath outside, or the occasional visitor to greet. Her hips are too painful with arthritis to accommodate any more activity than that. Walks are out of the question. A game of fetch occupies perhaps only a memory to be dreamed of. Playtime with Wilson is mostly out of the question, although she still loves a rousing game of bone wars now and then.
Yes. Scarlett is slowing more each day. We don’t know when she will ask for that final ride to the vet, or if she even will. The vet’s office has always been a source of concern for Scarlett. But as long as she can still manage to walk to her spot on the grass, Scarlett will continue to be showered with the same love and care that she has always given us.
I call these the gentle days.
I hold Scarlett’s dear face in my hands and we talk. We murmur softly to each other. We smile. I’ve promised her that I’ll hold her all the way when the time comes. I tell her it’s okay to leave us if she needs to and it’s equally okay to stay if she wants.
In spite of — or perhaps more accurately, because of — the spreading gray on her muzzle, her halting gait, her deliberate far-away gaze, the gorgeous Miss Scarlett has never seemed more beautiful.