My first child turns 15 years old on August 9th (I think). I'm not 100% sure of his exact birth date since he's adopted and the cage he was living in when I adopted him did have some pee in it. The birth records may not be that accurate.
I was living in Chicago in 1995 and it was the Fall. I had wandered past a pet shop on Ashland Avenue with my friend Kelly who was visiting from out of town. We saw the most unique looking spotted puppies and I thought they were absolutely adorable. She did not. Later that day I told my roommate Bill about the black and white pooches we had seen. This pet shop sold dogs of the purebred variety, but also had some mixed breeds to choose from. The mixed breeds were much cheaper. Just what we had in mind.
Bill and I ventured over later that day and bought the last male in the cage. He piddled on the floor when we got him out to examine his cuteness. It was so sweet. His ears seemed bigger than his whole body. We were in love.
I had wanted to name him "Opie" because of his spots, but we (Bill!) decided that "Madison" was a better fit. It was a great choice. He was named Madison before it was cool to name your daughter Madison, so he's often mistaken for a girl.
He was a great city dog, walked right next to me while we meandered down the busy sidewalks sans leash. He went to work with me every single day. We were inseparable.
He enjoyed going to parties. Sitting under the food table was his coveted spot.
He would hang out with his buddy Elwood at the dog park and have sleepovers with his dogfriend Petey. He even took a road trip to Texas to meet another dog named Kramer, good ol' Kramer.
He was terrified of kittens, had his own dog walker when I started working at a feline veterinary hospital and never dipped anything other than his toes into Lake Michigan.
When Chad and I got married they instantly bonded. Really, to know Madison is to love him.
He has mellowed a lot in his old age. He's also gotten senile. He fell asleep with his face inches over the water bowl last week. He tolerates the kids pretty well. He tends to sleep away most of the day in our bedroom so that keeps him out of reach of little hands. He doesn't move as fast as he used to so he does get run over by Gigi's shopping cart sometimes. She can be an angry shopper.
He doesn't see well in the dark. Who am I kidding, he doesn't see well in the light either. He can't hear anything we say or yell to him. His back legs go out on him sometimes and he has trouble getting back up.
I couldn't wake him one morning recently. I was pushing him and picking up his legs. I called Chad into the bedroom and he snapped his fingers right into Madison's ear and he woke up. I had my first real "senior pet" moment then. I didn't like it and I'm not at all looking forward to when the day comes that I can't wake him up. I hope that's how it happens, though. Isn't that what everyone wants for their loved ones...a peaceful and sleep induced departure?
Thankfully we still have another birthday to celebrate. But what does one get a geriatric dog who has had everything he could want over the years? He doesn't play with toys anymore and rich foods have been irritable to his digestion recently...we won't forget the morning we woke up to pasta-induced diarrhea all over the house.
We have decided that this year we are going to get him a nice therapeutic dog bed with a memory-foam insert. His current dog bed is a bit skunky. I have to get him a big enough bed so he can share it with the cats...the cats have made this arrangement, not Madison, but he obliges.
Happy Birthday to the most magnificent dog that has EVER roamed this earth!