• Tove Foss Ford

Sunny - Waldo

It's been a while since I put up a new blog post. Life has been challenging of late -

as it has been for all of us.

Right now, I face a situation that reminds me of one of the "minor" characters in Love and Sacrifice and Eirdon, Katrin's faithful boarhound, Sunny

Sunny, Katrin's boarhound.

Rather than being a planned character, Sunny appeared in my mind out of nowhere, as some characters, Borsen and Kaymar in particular, have. Like many of the characters who "knock at the door" rather than being consciously conceived as a plot device, he turns out to be based on someone I know.

Wait, a dog based on "someone" I know?

I'm one of those people who considers my pets to be "someone" - they have their own personalities, quirks, loves, dislikes and loyalties. Sunny is, in many ways, an essential character.

Sunny is largely based on my own dog, Waldo.

Of course, Waldo is not a boarhound, an Eirdon breed of dogs, a sort of giant Irish Wolfhound. He is a pitbull, who came to me from a rescue.

Waldo was what rescue shelters call a long-timer. I adopted him some years ago. He's been my protector and buddy ever since.

I found quickly that Waldo couldn't be trusted around other dogs, that he'd been trained to go into the pit. Unfortunately, that experience stayed with him. Small dogs were prey, large dogs were to be fought. My dreams of taking him to dog parks and classes to train him to be a visitor for nursing homes went down the gurgler. He couldn't be trusted around another dog, and had to be restrained and watched constantly if another dog was around.

I believe when you take on a pet, you accept their personality traits, good and bad. So Waldo and I made a good life together. He's been pretty spry, considering his health conditions and a permanently crippled foreleg. He had an enormous zest for life, barreling down the stairs from his room the moment my door key went into the lock in the evenings, ready for "go out", dinner and play. He adored his walks and meeting people who weren't afraid of him. He loved to go to the vet, where The Wall of Food (display of prescription pet food) was his favorite shrine. Waldo only barked once in the entire time he's lived with me - and I'm glad, because it sounded like the Tyrannosaurus Rex in Jurassic Park. He was extremely tolerant and patient, but if he felt someone was a threat to me, woe betide them. Always the stalwart protector - and alarm clock, complete with ridiculous burbling sounds and foolishly rolling eyes.

It became obvious, after a while, that Waldo was older than his early rescuers

red pitbull
Waldo, when he first came to live with me.

thought. He developed various health problems, including lupus and arthritis. In the last year, Waldo has declined in health and energy, while arthritis has stolen his ability to go on his beloved walks and makes it precarious for him to go on his ecstatic car rides, where he hangs his head out the window in any weather to greet people in passing cars, on sidewalks and sitting on their porches.

Waldo's spine is calcified from arthritis. He's maxed out on his medications, which no longer eliminate all his pain - there is nothing else we can give him. Other therapies have not helped. It's fortunate that I've been working from home during the pandemic, because he can't manage the stairs on his own and he refuses to sleep downstairs, because he must be upstairs to guard me at night and risks a terrible fall if he tries to go up or down without help.

In the last week, Waldo's quality of life has diminished a great deal. The vet saw him the other day and said that it's time.

This is the hard part of having a pet, but no relationship is free of pain. For all the happy hellos, there is one, heartbreaking good-bye.

It's time to say good-bye to my wonderful Waldo.

I thank him for so many things - all the laughter, all the fun, the fierce protectiveness, the clowning, the unremitting love - and I thank him for the inspiration that created Sunny, who salvaged Love and Sacrifice when I was hopelessly stalled on it and about to chuck the entire project.

We'll be traveling the final mile together this week. There will be no more pain for my precious friend and I'll learn to live without him. He'll dance like a young pup at The Light At The Top Of The World.

Good-bye, sweet boy. Love and light.

Waldo with his "babies", in sweet repose.

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