Sadly, Lulu, our lovely little "teacup mastiff"--small for breed at only 135 pounds--has been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an incurable bone cancer.
Everyone in our farm family has been enchanted by her not-very-bright but indomnitable brindled dogness, generally manifest as a large kitchen obstacle, occasionally shouldering the dinnertable as she struggles underneath to sit on our collective feet.
She is less charming when dealing with intruders onto what she views as her turf, but as far as I know has never done anything more lethal than bristle and growl, loudly and efficiently.
I often nap with her on her couch--leather upholstery now held together mostly with red duct tape--lulled into semiconsciousness by her snores and dreamtwitches, and she leans protectively into my knee as we walk down the driveway to fetch the newspaper. She has been limping more and walking less as the knot on her front leg grows, but still races out, about as graceful as a freight locomotive, to greet the dawn and roar at passing coyotes at midnight, and watches over the kitchen with sad eyes and the usual trail of affectionate drool.
Martha's little dachshund Rudy is gray, half-blind, and in Pampers, and DiAnne's fastidious Basenji Shorty is beginning to stagger, her tightly curled tail slowly unwinding.
I think we all are old enough to just hope that the people who feed us and walk us and curl up with us on our couches will love us for even our unlovely shortcomings when we too unwind, and not intervene too much when the inevitable end approaches. And that we too will march out, or stagger out, or limp out to meet every single dawn with some trace of this magnificent unthinking joy.
And, at least a few more times, be out at midnight yowling with the coyotes.