Saturday, March 28, 2015

Birthday Girl

I note the birthdays of all my Maine Coon litters on my Facebook page. I tell my cats "Happy Birthday!" when it's their big day, but that's as far as the recognition goes. However, when the oldest pet in the house turned 14 today, I felt the need to put forth more effort. No, not the party hat and cake; she wouldn't understand and may even find it humiliating.

14 years ago - this photo is still on our fridge
For the past couple of years, I've felt we were on borrowed time with Chardonnay, our Golden Retriever. She's had a tumor removed. She's had one seizure, possibly linked to a brain tumor according to our vet, but that was over a year ago. Her knees are bad and her hips have atrophied; she's on medication and supplements to help her. She hesitates before getting up and navigating the steps. Her hearing is almost shot and her eyes are foggy. Her skin has several gross-feeling cysts the size of an engorged tick. I blogged about Chardonnay on her tenth birthday in part because I wasn't sure how much longer she'd be with us.

But once up, Chardonnay trots along happily. She still practices caprophagia with tremendous passion whenever the opportunity to eat poop arises. She can't hear us tell her to be quiet, but she can always hear Coraline barking at imagined intruders and joins in. She turned grey a decade ago, but has maintained her girlish figure of 83 pounds all these years.

I've never had a dog live this long before. I've never even had a purebred dog before Chardonnay. I know of many who have had retrievers (Lab or Golden) who didn't make it past 10 years old. Once in a while, I'll hear of one who lives to 16, but that's rare for a large breed. For me, Chardonnay's birthday is sentimental and an accomplishment.

So today, on Chardonnay's 14th birthday, I thought I'd take her on a shopping trip to Pet Supplies Plus. It's a perfect day for her breed; cold, fresh snow and freezing rain, adding to the snow that will never melt after our never-ending winter. Snow is Chardonnay's favorite element. If it were nicer weather for humans, I'd take her for a hike in the woods.

I brushed her, getting a couple of puppies worth of fur off. Gave her a mani-pedi while the others watched.

Next, I lifted her into the back of my car and off we went. Chardonnay loves car rides and meeting new people. Once at our destination, I helped the old girl out and we trotted into the store. When I announced to the sales associate that we were here to shop for Chardonnay's birthday, she proclaimed that meant she got a free cookie.
Getting her treat at Pet Supplies Plus
Everyone in the store petted her, and I'm sure Chardonnay assumed they all came to see her. She gets a bit miffed when kitten buyers come over and spend more time looking at kittens than they do her. We walked down the aisles, stopping to sniff all the food bags, treats and toys. I offered Chardonnay several toys; the stuffed chicken, the tug toy, a ball perhaps? Nope, just food thank you. She enjoys eating and napping the most these days.

Window shopping
We filled up our cart with the other items we needed, picked up a few more dog treats and checked out. Chardonnay got to eat another big cookie in the car, happily munching away while I drove home. Happy birthday puppy girl!
Happy Girl!