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HarrietMarch 18, 2009

    Harriet and her blanket (knitted by Lala for her -- how CUTE is that?)

Lately my favorite part of the day is early in the morning. (Super early. We won't even say how early, but it might start with a three. We can't really think about it.)

I go out in the living room, start the coffee, feed the cats, and then go to the couch and pick up 18-year old Harriet. She can't hear that much anymore, but I think she feels the vibration of my feet puttering around, and she's usually poking her nose up, waiting for me, by the time I get to her.

I carry her like a baby (something she used to hate), and take her outside, across the back porch, down the steps, and set her down on the concrete. She wobbles a bit, and I hold her back end up, scritching at the same time. She thinks about it for a while, and then pees. If I'm not right there, she wanders off and gets lost under the porch, so I stand and wait while she gets it done.

Then she follows me slowly up the stairs and into the kitchen. She walks with me through the house, but usually ends up on her cushion or back on the couch for another nap while I write and shower.

    Lala and Harriet (sweater made by me)

At least a couple of times a week, we think she's dead. Does this sound callous? Like I don't care? I do. We do. We care SO much, but while we're not ready for her to go, we're very conscious of the time we have. And when you find her on the couch, completely still, no rising or falling of the chest, you wonder.

The other morning I actually thought it had happened. I touched her. She was stiff. No motion. She felt cold. I started to well up.  Then she puffed and snuffled up her head and I sat back on my ass in happy surprise.

It's the sweetest time right now. While time is running out (what time isn't?), it's nice to know that she's healthy, and happy (when she's not grumpy), and in no pain. And everything she does is the cutest thing we've ever seen. Today when I got home, she ran around like the house like a maniac and grinned from ear to ear when I got out her food. IT WAS THE CUTEST THING. I was so sad I hadn't videoed it, and it was just running around.

Harriet is the dog of Lala's heart, but having lived with her for more than three years now, I can honestly say my step-dog Harriet is the best dog ever (don't tell Clara or Miss Idaho, who are obviously close runners-up). It's good to have this time (WHICH COULD GO ON A LOT LONGER, YOU HEAR THAT, UNIVERSE?) to appreciate her.

Now, go give an animal a pet. I have to take Ol' Groany outside again.

    I can see you, you know.


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oh, sweetie, I hope you two have her around a while longer. It's heartbreaking watching them get older so much faster than us.

I will go scratch my old girl cat under the chin, which she loves. We found her late in her life. I think she had some pretty hard times out on her own but she is the sweetest cat I have ever met and loves everyone. I love her too even though she drives me crazy at 2am when she wants to play, so she sits and stares at me until I wake up ;)
I wish you as much time with Harriet as possible.

That made me cry so very touching. I gave all my animals a pet for you and because they deserve it for being the best friends anybody could wish for..

I think you and La have hearts of gold :')

I am off to go pet my buddy Benny. Coolest cat evah. Though I am convinced that his next life he is coming back as a dog ;)

And by the way, I TOTALLY believe in pet reincarnation. I have had these same cats in different cat bodies before. I am sure of it.

I was so scared when I saw your title because I thought poor Harriet had died. I know it's coming, but are you ever really prepared? I'm glad she's still enjoying her last days with you.

I totally get it. We felt the same way about Mojo, who would have been 18 in a couple weeks but was in otherwise perfect health (if you don't count the occasional cat pee on the bath mat).

He was taken from us rather suddenly in January. It was a shock, it six-kinds-of-sucked, but I'm grateful that it was mercifully brief.

Enjoy your babies!

What a sweetie pie!!!!!

So sweet and thoughtful post about Harriet! I can see her as all your readers. Yes, I'm going to give a pet to Fluffy, the wonderful country long hair cat that was given to me by friends. Wishing you(x2) and your lively animal followers a wonderful week-end!;) xx

Over the years Miss Harriet has stolen my heart, too. From back when you first started courting the Banjo Girl, heheh. so yeah, though I've never met her in 3D, Miss Harriet love is everywhere. Hugs to you and her and Lala. (and the Digit-man and the rest of the tribe)

....so sweet, thanks for sharing this bit of your life with us.....

I think my dog died at least once a week. She is between 14-16, and sometimes she sleeps with her eyes open and very still. It's so upsetting. Then she usually gets up and wants a treat, to go outside, to go to another room, chase a cat, etc. :) The relief I feel when she perks up is incredible! I just renewed her license for 3 years- now she has to stick around!

It seems I was petting a friend's cats as you were posting this yesterday (and talking to the one that used to be ours - she's skittish at best and doesn't tolerate much touching).

Friends of mine recently lost their 17 year-old dog and it was much the same as what you describe with Harriet now. Of course, they said they probably wouldn't get another very soon, but now they have a 6-month old pup which, while not a replacement, certainly seems to be a welcome distraction.

Enjoy, as I'm sure Harriet is.

Absolutely lovely. Thank you for, among other things, reminding me to run around like a maniac and grin from ear to ear when getting MY food ready (metaphorically speaking). Off to smother my cat with hugs now...

I'm so glad you have these sweet times with her. I was worried when I saw the title and photo! Tell her hello for me. :)

Oh you made me tear up on this one. She is adorable. Then I went and gave Cricket, who is dog I"m madly in love with (who is not the dog of my heart; that would be the aging and cranky Ella) a huge hug.

Have a great day, Rachel.


You've got a good dog there, and Harriet has some good humans. Love to you all.

Savor the time. Keep soaking up every minute. I hope you two have years together. One of my cats had a sudden, massive heart attack and died on Monday, 3/9/9 at 7:40 p.m. Grief is brutal but the love you get before it is phenomenal.

You and Lala are very smart women to treasure this precious time with Miss Harriet. We still miss our Lab, Zeus, who left us at the age of 12. But, having the time to give him extra loves, tell him what a fabulous dog he was, go for that last walk, that time is precious beyond telling. I'm off to hug Penny, Keon (the new Lab), and Bast the cat. Scritch Miss Harriet for me, would you?

oh harriet. you are a little love, aren't you.

my mom's dog patience is in about the state harriet's in right now. no pain, which is good. but it's definitely just about that time. ;(

I know what you mean about savoring the time you have - we just lost our Riso but are taking comfort in the fact that we didn't take the last year or so for granted. And we're going through the same with our nearly 20-year-old cat -he'll be so still I think he's left us - I'll pat him gently and get all teary - and 10 seconds later, 'prrrrrt?'. I think he likes to psych me out.

You are NOT callous, because you know your time together is, by nature, limited.
I hope you enjoy every minute that you have with her, wish you many, many more of them, and know you will remember all the joy she gave when she finally leaves.
As I have done, and do now, with my loving feline friends (Robar for 13 years, Chelsea for 20, Spooky for 3, and Magellan and Reynard for only 1{unfair!])

Oh, and the checking on whether she's still breathing? I do that all the time with just about everyone! Regardless of age and health. Even my husband. I don't know why... just nervous/weird about it I guess!

Nobody loves you like your dog. Love to Harriet.

Such a sweet old baby. They certainly do sleep hard when they get old, don't they?

Awwww. It is so nice that she is happy and healthy and just...old. Dog love is just the best.

Frankie's asleep on my feet while I work. I just gave her some good scritchies and hugs. I think she may get a cookie, too.

oh, that was so lovely! It made me tear up - we just went through the same thing with our nineteen year old calico cat. She'd become so deaf that you could sneak up on her and when you leaned in and petted her to make sure she was still breathing, she'd jump. She had also acquired the loudest meow - I think because she could no longer hear herself. It was a sad day when she left us, but 19 years was a good run for a little kitten that had been abandoned in a dairy barn. We were lucky to have her.

Like so many others, I read this post with trepidation after seeing the title and photo. I'm SO glad that Harriet is still with you! After so many years, it's going to be terrible for Lala when she goes. I hope you all have many more happy years together.

Another one who was worried when I saw the title. We went through this with our Pip, what is it with these old dogs they're cuter than puppies.
Enjoy her while you can - it's never long enough.
Hugs to all

My Bert and Ernie, doxie/beagle brothers, rescues from the shelter in Alameda. They are somewhat deaf and blind, but love will always be their strong suit. Thank you for reminding me that time waits for no dog.......XO to Harriet and family.

Oh wookit dat face . . . she IZ da kewtist doggie EVAH.

Yep, love every single day you have her. Each day is a treasure.

Wishing both of you many many more days to bask in the love of your precious puppeh..

Old dogs, old dogs. I love my old dog, and I really hope he makes it to a healthy, grumbly 18 like Harriet.

I had a real hard time reading this one. My own beloved dog is getting really old - it just seemed to come on all of a sudden. We figured it up and think she is around 14-15 years old. She adopted us after she was grown so we don't really know her exact age. I am trying to come to terms with things but it is so hard. I love her so much - she is still so much my little puppy even though we never knew her as a puppy. Give both Harriet and Lala a kiss for me. That picture of Lala and Harriet just about broke my heart.

Our Cheyenne (our beloved companion and family member for 17 years) wound down like Harriet. She wobbled and was pretty much deaf and blind, but she always knew we were there. She could even manage a thump of her tail; then she'd stick her nose in the air for a pet and a love. We adored her; helping her with her transition was one of the hardest and most heartbreaking things we've ever had to do. It was necessary, though - I wouldn't allow her to live in pain. Her ashes now reside in a beautiful oak box with an inscribed plaque on the front in our front room. She lives next to her friend, our kitty Monkey, who passed two years ago. Excuse me while I go blow my nose.

Sweet little dog.
Made me think of the time at the park when Harriet took off in the other direction and you were running after her yelling her name, telling bystanders, as you passed, that she was deaf and everyone started yelling her name until she finally figured it out.
Oh, there you are. Happy.

I am so with you on the Harriett situation! I had a kitty that lived into her early-mid twenties (she never told me her exact age, she was a rescue). The last few years each day I come home I almost expected to find her gone, or she would be sleeping and I would shake her to make sure she was still with me! She required A LOT of care those last few years. People kept telling me it was time for to go, except out vet, and I kept telling those people that she was happy and not in pain, and that SHE would let me know when it was time. When the awful time did come, our vet came to my house to do it.
She was the best kitty ever, and deserved everything I did for her.
You two just keep that sweet doggy happy and pain free as long as she wants!

Beautiful Harriet is living off love, you and La have given her (and the rest of your furry crew) such a blessed life and happy home and at that age, they really are living off pure love! I just kissed my 3 dogs in honor of yours! p.s. we just got my 2nd dog, his own dog..does that make sense? now I have two dogs with dogs of their own - I am serious...so cute...

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