Life is like a record on a record player, I've found. It continues to go, around and around, and always with pressure; a weight. There are ups and there are downs and sometimes it is everything you can do to keep from being pushed down and knocked about by the pressure. But a lot of people only focus on the pressure and the ups and downs and neglect the bigger picture. They neglect the fact that these ups and downs, combined with this weight, make beautiful music. Without these ups and downs, a record is just a thin piece of useless vinyl, spinning forever with no tune. Every time I think that life is getting to be too much, I realize that it's just part of the process. Without these dips, there would be no music. I wouldn't have a complete record of my life.
Today, I found out that my dog had to be put down. My Sydney, my dearest companion. Cancer is abhorrent. It has claimed far too many of my family and it probably won't rest on its laurels. She had an advanced form of bone marrow cancer that we just didn't put together. She started having trouble eating about six months ago. She couldn't stomach dry food so we switched her to wet food and she was ecstatic. Life continued on turning. Lately she'd been having a bit of trouble keeping that wet food down but, hey, she was 12 years old. She's not perfect. Finally, on Wednesday my parents had to bring her to the vet because she was running a high fever and was starting to get weak. A blood test came back and the doctors had to send another one out. They thought the test was wrong. They'd never seen a dog with such a low white blood cell count still standing. When they got it back, it was even lower. They said that there was little hope of recovery if we started chemo now, so we went for the only option left available. My parents said their goodbyes and my Sydney drifted off to the dog version of Valhalla, a land resplendent with rawhide-bearing bushes, Milk Bone rain showers, and clouds that float down from the sky for them to sleep on. My greatest regret is not being there to say goodbye. She and I had a bond forged from pure steel since the day we met and I feel almost ashamed that I wasn't there to cradle her and see her off.
She was a rescue dog. She didn't rescue people, we rescued her. She had been in an abusive home in the Carolinas where they didn't feed her at all and let her run loose. She was maltreated, to say the least. When the Animal Control found her, she had a severe case of heart-worm and they immediately put her on heart-worm treatments. If you know anything about heart-worms and dogs, the survivability rate isn't great. But my little Sydney beat the odds and overcame heart-worm. We found her through the internet and adopted her, having her flown in. My other dog is deaf and she needed a "companion dog", a hearing dog that would allow her some extension of senses that could be translated through doggie mannerisms. While she couldn't hear, she could have a buddy that could do her hearing for her. When we picked her up from Albany International, she was a waif of a dog.
The heart-worm treatment had left her almost emaciated. Her normal soft outer coat of fur had fallen out, leaving her hair short and bristly. She was skittish and so was I. She was a little fireball of a thing, even in her nervousness. We met her in the terminal as she was guided out on a leash by a stewardess. She approached us and sniffed us. She had no tail, as is customary with Austrailian Shepards (it had been "docked" off), so her sincerest form of joy was wagging her entire rear. Only recently did I know that there was a tiny little nub of a tail embedded in her fur that would wiggle furiously every time I came out of my room. This bond came from the ride home from Albany. Stuck in a crate that was too small for her, there wasn't enough room for a food bowl to be placed into it. She was hungry, you could tell, because she kept sniffing the air and staring at the bowl with those big brown eyes. So, I started feeding her kibble from my hand. Three kibble at a time, I'd squeeze my hand through the crate bars and she'd eat them. we did this through the entirity of the ride home, three little kernels of food at a time. When we got home and took her off the leash, she made a bee-line to my room. She scrambled in and immediately peed on my floor, right next to my bed. She was marking me as her own, as her trusted friend. And things went along swimmingly since then.
Sydney and I have had our ups and downs. She can be annoying and fickle but loving and sweet at the same time. She supported me through some of my toughest moments and I supported her through some tough ones of hers. But, unfortunately, her record is a 78, mine is a 33 1/3. Her record had to come off and be put away with all the others while mine continues to trundle on, its ups and downs carving out the song that is my life. One day I'll be able to put her record back on and listen to it, reliving everything we've had. But until then, I guess I just have to keep turning.