This lil mutherfucker is Lunchbox:
The vet’s records say Lunchbox is 13-years-old, but that’s not true. We’ve had him for 13 years, but he was full grown when we got him from the rescue. We thought he was a puppy—and he was marketed as such—but as he failed to grow any bigger, or loose any “baby” teeth, or need to be housebroken, it slowly dawned on us that he wasn’t a puppy, he was just a small dog some dipshit didn’t want.
Anyway, on Friday he really wasn’t feeling well.
— David Erik Nelson (@SquiDaveo) August 12, 2016
We figured it was the heat; we live in Michigan, it had been 90 for a week, we have no AC—it was miserable. He mostly just moped around that week, looking at us with utter disgust at our inability to make the house work properly. By the weekend, he was lying on the hardwood floor in front of a fan, only going outside to potty when coaxed (or, on several occasions, carried).
Then the heat broke, but he felt no better. He was very listless, and seemed confused. He was having trouble standing up, and trouble navigating the steps, not that he couldn’t—he could be coaxed up with treats—but more like he couldn’t quite understand how steps worked.
This all seemed Really Bad, so I took him to the vet Monday. It turns out that he’s full of “masses” that are almost certainly tumors. One (are several) inside the membrane that surrounds his heart, and another maybe on his liver or spleen—which is in line with some elevated something-something levels in his blood (he had a lot of tests, and I was having trouble following, because the vet—who was a very nice, small young woman—was so obviously absolutely miserable to have to be telling me any of this). As a consequence of the tumors (and possibly the heat, and likely a variety of lingering infections permitted to slowly simmer in his failing, mass-ridden system), his pancreas had swollen enormously, and was smooshing his organs and distending his belly and generally making him miserable as fuck. Also, it was making it really hard to tell in the x-rays what masses in his guts were attached to what, and how severe they may be.
— David Erik Nelson (@SquiDaveo) August 16, 2016
The upshot is that Lunchbox probably has 6 months to live, maybe a year, maybe less. The vet sold me anti-emetics and antibiotics, and instructed me to shift him to a very low-fat diet—which, absolutely no joke, is my diet: Cheap-ass, low-fat beef/chicken over steamed brown rice. I also had to pick him up a ‘scrip for controlled narcotics.
At the human pharmacy.
For my dog.
My dog is on dope. His name is on the bottle and everything: “
This is the face of the Midwestern opioid epidemic #America:
It’s now two days later, and he’s absolutely and 100% back to being his old self—mostly due to the anti-emetics (which killed his nausea, restoring his appetite) and antibiotics (which are bringing down the most obvious belly-distention), but infinitely bolstered by the fact that he’s absolutely elated to be on my diet.
From his perspective, this has all turned out terrific—because he doesn’t know what the future is, and therefore doesn’t know that he’s mostly dead.
I don’t know if that means he’s an idiot or a fucking zen master. I guess, all things being equal, I hope that I can begin to emulate his comportment in the face of death.
When I first started trying to find a way to talk about all this, I’d imagined I’d follow that bold-italics bit above with something like “I guess that means God is not a total dick sometimes.”
But then I realized: Lunchbox is a dog. God didn’t make dogs; we did. They are our first, grandest experiment in Genetically Modified Organisms, now in it’s 15,000-ish year. We are their God, and we made them in our image—or at least the best parts of it: We took wolves and foxes and selectively bred them until they became beasts mostly composed of love and loyalty, forever content, forever in the Now, perhaps somewhat easily Scared, but not cursed with Fear, because they aren’t cursed with thinking they have any fucking clue What Comes Next.
The Rabbi Jesus might have urged all-y’all to consider the lilies of the field and how they grow, neither toiling nor spinning, but I couldn’t tell a fucking lily from a mayapple or crocus or onion plant. Fuck lilies. As far as I’m concerned, consider the dog, how he loves, how he trusts that things will sort out OK, and food will come, and rest will come, and warmth will come, and affection will come. He doesn’t toil, he doesn’t fret, and yet he does OK, all things considered.