When pets grow old

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On Friday night I caught the last plane out of Johannesburg and flew to Durban for a very last minute visit. I had been intending to stay in Joburg for the long weekend, but this change was prompted by my mom who phoned me during the week and told my Milty was doing really badly and that I should make a plan to come visit.

Just over a year ago Milton starting tripping and falling over a lot. At first it was gradual, but over the course of last year he got progressively worse. At first he was on a cortisone treatment which made him really unhappy, and after that acupuncture, which he has continued. Nothing has helped though, and over the past 4 months he has completely stopped being able to walk. The muscles in his back legs have atrophied to such a extent that he needs help with everything, including going to relieve himself. Looking after him has placed a huge strain on my mom, and it is becoming very difficult to manage. She has constant back pain trying to help a dog that weighs 25 kgs to go outside and he needs to be washed all the time because he has trouble controlling his bodily functions.

It was really hard seeing him this way over the weekend. Boxers are meant to run and jump and play, not lie on the floor day-in and day-out because they can’t walk. The most horrible sight was seeing him get all excited when we took his back harness out so we could take him to the beach on Sunday afternoon; he started crawling on the floor, dragging his back half. I’m not sure how much longer he’ll be around, and I’m dreading the day we have to make that call. I don’t want to write about what an amazing dog he’s been – all dogs are amazing. I also don’t want to sound crazy, going on about my dog, but the fact of the matter is that he has been a part of my life for longer than most of my friendships, and certainly all of my relationships put together. I’m so grateful to my mom and my sister for everything they are doing for him, seeing that I am all the way over here; but in a horrible selfish way I am also relieved I don’t have to see him like that every day.

Anyway, I don’t want this to sound like some sort of weird eulogy to my dog (who at least for now is still alive) so I will stop writing now. It really sucks when pets get old – there just isn’t a more eloquent way to say this. If your dog is anywhere near you, give him or her a hug.

Going down to Durban town

In just a few hours I will be hopping on to a plane and flying down to Durban to visit my family. I am unsually excited about this, but I guess over the past two years I haven’t spent much time in the city that I grew up in, and absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Enough negativity though, I wanted to post about the things I love most about visiting Durban.

1. The sea – I was born by the sea and grew up by the sea. I like just being able to see it every day, to smell it, to hear the waves crashing. I love the way the sun reflects off it. I love counting the ships waiting to come in.

2. The beach – yes the sea and the beach go together but you can enjoy the sea without stepping foot on the beach.

3. Seeing my mom and my Moo.

4. The general chaos of my parent’s house – my house in Joburg is so quiet and ordered. I can leave anything without worrying that some critter (usually Koko the African Grey) will destroy it within minutes. In small doses the chaos is quite entertaining.

This is Koko, destroyer of all things.

5. John and Joanna’s cooking – my sister and her boyfriend and amazing cooks. I love that I don’t have to come anywhere near the kitchen while I am in Durban. And all the meals are better-than-restaurant quality.

This was John and Joanna making 'Zulu' sushi - with fillet steak in place of fish. It was amazing.