This morning in the sun.

This morning in the sun.

Checked Axel twice this morning, just to make sure he was breathing.

For months now, I’ve wondered when it would be time.

“Is eating?” the vet’s office would ask.


If you let him, Axel will eat morning, noon, night, every day. Twice a day. His only weakness–aside from shedding–is his rapacious appetite.

If he stopped eating, you can bet I would mention it.

If I’m out on an early bike ride he will lie to Ariel to get a second breakfast. Or maybe— this occurred to me just lately–his 17 year-old brain forgets that he’s already eaten. Like it forgets where the curb is, or that his nose has forgotten how to smell, or that there’s no reason to stand in the corner. Or how to see and hear.

Instead of calling him, I need to give him a light tap to get his attention.

Jessamyn with baby Axel.

Jessamyn with baby Axel.

For months now I’ve wondered when it would be time.

Would the puppies do him in? No, in fact they brought him back from the brink. Greta, bless her heart, has never given up on getting him to play. She’ll gently paw at him and then roll over on her belly submissively.

Marlowe ignored him for months, but has recently started grooming his face. Darling.

Will they notice that he’s gone?

Little pieces of his nose have been falling off for a while now. For months I’ve been carrying him outside at night, but recently started carrying him back in as well.

He still tries to hustle when there’s food involved, but in the excitement his little feet may slide out from under him. Or he will trip over my shoe, or his own bark will knock him over. Truly. He doesn’t even try to lift his leg when he pees. Need all four of those old legs on the ground.

But when something big happened—he fell in the spa or started wetting his bed—that seemed to signal the bitter end, we would be jerked back.

Turned out he was having seizures. Seizure medication has stopped that.

“Stopped it” or “Has stopped it.”? “He would eat?” or “He will eat?” I’m having a really hard time with verb tenses here….as well as everything else…because today is the day.

Hiking in Switzerland sixteen years ago.

Hiking in Switzerland sixteen years ago.

We brought little Axel home 17 years ago on Christmas, a two-pound ball of spirit and love. Officially he was Ariel’s dog, but he instantly found his way into all of our hearts, including Forbes the 170-pound Great Dane.

They shared an amazing friendship. They slept together, Forbes’s giant paw resting on Axel and every evening after dinner, Forbes invited Axel to play tug of war. Forbes always won of course, but Axel was always happy to play. You just never know.

That cheerful pug optimism is still there. Even now. When I think he can’t even walk, I’ll find he’s moved himself over into the warm sun, or trying to compete with the puppies for a treat. He can’t—couldn’t—hear his name, but dog chaos tells him about the treat bag.

But really, to him, and to me, there’s nothing better than a good cuddle.

He’s right here next to my feet.

And I already miss him.

My beautiful boy.

My beautiful boy.



About Karen Ray

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3 Responses to Today

  1. Patricia Canaday says:

    Thank you for letting Axel stay with me and Lila last year while you traveled. I loved that time with him so much. Missing you all and sending my love from New Hampshire.

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