I know I’ve sounded calm, even accepting, about my departure plans for Frankie. And much of the time I am. Operation Spoil Frankie has been a nice diversion.
But then there are the times when the facade breaks open and I realize that a) I’m still in a form of denial and b) I have gone down some crazy lanes.
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
It hadn’t occurred to me that saying goodbye to Frankie would also involve saying good-bye to his vet, Dr. E — maybe not forever, but it’s an end to a particular relationship that was very meaningful.
Worse, it was done by voice mail. And I’m convinced that T-Mobile, which has been playing fast and loose with my messages, will delete this series.
I’d finally gotten up the nerve to call Dr. E and ask him whether he thought Frankie could be helpful in medical research; it’s something I wanted to know yet dreaded asking. After a couple of rounds of phone tag, I got a message from Dr. E that said, in essence, that he knows of no medical programs. The message also included these words of farewell: “You’ve taken such good care of Frankie. Say good-bye to him for me.”
I lost it — and still sob, every time I think of it, including now.
I felt like I was losing a dear friend, a vital and gentle guide to the ways of Frankie, my first dog. I have no doubt that the farewell was heartfelt, that Dr. E genuinely cares for his long-time patients. (And yes, I will write him a note when the deed is done and tell him how much he meant to me.)
But it wasn’t only that. Once your beloved vet says good-bye to your pet, and approves of your decision to let go, there’s no turning back.
I suppose there’s one part of my decision to postpone the inevitable until November 1 that has denial as its source. Maybe the hospice vet was wrong, I’ve been thinking. She saw Frankie at his worst, having woken him up from a deep sleep in mid-morning. He’s far perkier in the evening these days.
And Frankie’s junk food diet — the cat food and franks I’ve been giving him to spoil him instead of organic no-grain kibble and plain chicken — seems to have made him more alert. Maybe it was his boring low fat diet that got him depressed, giving him no reason to get up in the morning?
Oh, so you expected rational?
“You’ve Taken Such Good Care of Frankie”
That praise, coming from Dr. E, means a lot to me.
Dr. E. is the third medical professional who has said words to that effect. The first was the eye specialist who said that Frankie’s vision was surprisingly good considering how long he’s had diabetes; she attributed it to my care. The second was the hospice vet who said that it was unusual to find a diabetic dog who was still relatively healthy after five years of living with the condition.
Friends, real and virtual — yes, that means you, gentle readers — have said similar things.
It’s too bad I don’t believe it.
None of you have a clue about what goes on behind the scenes… the times I’ve forgotten to refill Frankie’s water bowl for at least an hour, when I’ve made him ride with me in the car without soothing music, stood too long chatting on the trail with friends who have a dog that made Frankie nervous…
But the prime exhibit of my lack of caretaking skills: I’m convinced that if I hadn’t allowed Frankie to take steroids for two weeks when he injured his back 5 years ago, he wouldn’t have gotten diabetes in the first place. And if I was really a good caretaker, I wouldn’t have allowed him on the couch or on my bed, so he wouldn’t have injured his back jumping off high places to begin with.
In other words, if only I had second guessed Dr. E., who prescribed the steroids, or prevented Frankie from behaving like a dog, I might have deserved the kudos I’m now getting.
Bottom line: If I was a really good caretaker, I wouldn’t be saying good-bye to Frankie. I would be able keep him alive — and of sound body and mind — indefinitely.
Delusions of grandeur alternating with deep feelings of inadequacy: Is there a formal name for Dog Departure Derangement Syndrome in the DSM-5?
Update: You all are the nicest, most supportive readers a blogger could hope for — I thank you for all these comments. But as I explain in my next post, although I have moments of doubt (and derangement), I was exaggerating here for effect. Most of the time I know I’ve done the best that I can for Frankie, that I don’t have super powers.