As of today at 10:00am Phoenix and I have been together for 11 years and 3 weeks. It has been such a journey full of happiness and sadness, but a wonderful journey through and through. A journey I would never change for anything. Phoenix and I were matched just two months before my mom passed away and just under 7 years before my grandma passed away. He has done more than most dog guides, except of course my friend jess’s dog Jetta who went all over the world for swim meets and to the Paralympics in Athens, Greece.
Over the years we have had a few scares, but overall his health has been good. He has had more ear infections than I can count, but once we figured out he had a gluten allergy then things seemed to settle a bit. Phoenix is beginning to get a little stiffer in his walking and finds it hard at times when he first gets up to get going, but he just wags his tail and keeps walking until the kinks work themselves out. He cannot always hold his urine as long as the others – with the exception of Reece who seems to have a bladder the size of a pea – but we have worked out a schedule along with a cranberry supplement each day and this seems to work well for him. He went through a period of time between the ages of 10 and 12 where he would have accidents semi-regularly, but now he seems to have his bladder under control and hasn’t had an accident in over a year.
But, recently we have begun to notice that he isn’t hearing us at times. We thought it might be a mixture of deafness and selective hearing, but in the past month we’ve realized that he no longer hears. This is hard for me to accept because I loved it when I would just say his name and he would look up at me while his tail wagged excitedly. Even though we have been together for over 11 years, his tail has never stopped wagging at the sound of my voice. He would regularly ignore commands from others and look over at me for support, but now not even my commands can be heard. If I get his eye contact then his tail will sometimes wag, but this only makes me sadder because I know he must be wondering what I am saying.
Just writing these words makes tears come to my eyes because I know that it is official – my baby boy is getting older and we might not have too many years left…