My heart hurts this morning. Not a physical ache but an emotional one, the kind that puts you right on the edge of tears.

Since Friday a realization has slowly been dawning on me. I fought it because I didn't want it to be true. But it's inescapable now.

When I adopted Ronni, the shelter listed her birthday as 12/13/2007, making her just 9 days past her tenth birthday. The vet never said any differently but then again it's hard to age adult dogs when you don't have their full records. Teeth are one of the main things they look at and we have no way of knowing if her teeth are decayed due to age or a combination of only eating wet food and not getting any dental care over her previous years. Once they get to this age, the only thing you can tell definitively is that they're old.

There's always been something different about Ronni than other 10 year old beagles. You see, beagles have am average life span of 12-15 years. It's also fairly common for them to live to 16 or 17. So I thought I would get at least a solid 2-3 years with Ronni, probably closer to 5.

But then I started noticing things. They were all little things, really.

Ronni has fairly advanced arthritis in her hips, neck, and knees.
Ronni is very lethargic, content to spend her whole day sleeping in her bed.
Ronni has bad teeth, to the point that I have to break up any milkbone type treats, mix her food with wet food, and heat it all up to get her to eat.
Ronni struggles with incontinence.

For the most part, those are all little things.

But they're not things that a ten year old beagle should be dealing with. Not yet, anyways.

Yesterday Ronni had a really good day. She was energetic and playful. She enthusiastically played with her toys, sprinted around joyously on the way back inside after our walk, and played a game of chase with me down the hallway. Of course that meant her anxiety flared really badly when I went to yoga. But it was worth it to get a brief glimpse of what a younger Ronni would have been like, to see her eyes bright and alert and her spirits high.

Today is a different story.

That little bit of joy, those few brief hours of play, completely exhausted her. She wouldn't get out of bed this morning. She would only walk a few steps out the front door to go to the bathroom. She ate her breakfast and immediately crawled back in her bed to sleep.

This morning in response to the question are you sure she's really only 10 I said what I've been avoiding even thinking.

No. I'm not sure.

In fact, I'm fairly positive that she isn't.

I'm fairly positive that she's closer to 12-13 years old.

And that sucks. It really, really does.

You see I didn't want to admit that. I didn't want to admit it when the arthritis was found. I didn't want to admit it when the teeth problems started. I didn't want to admit it when I started struggling to get her to eat. I didn't want to admit it when people told me that they had the same problems with their much older dogs. I didn't want to admit it when people told me that those dogs experienced all those problems in her last 6 months to year of life.

Why didn't I want to admit it?

Because that means I don't have nearly as long with my baby as I thought I did. And that hurts like hell. I don't want to lose her.

But I've realized something else too.

I don't know how long I have with her. I could get her issues stabilized and she could bounce back and live for years. Or she could only live for another six months. I don't know.

All I can do is take the best care of her I can, and give her the best home possible. There's nothing else I can do.

I don't know how long Ronni has left. However long it is, it won't be long enough.

So I'm not going to worry about it anymore.

No, instead I'm going to focus on loving her. I'm going to focus on our walks together after work. I'm going to focus on curling up with her on the sofa. I'm going to focus on rubbing her ears in that way that makes her close her eyes and lean into my hand. I'm going to focus on spending every minute I can with her.

I'm also going to try and stop crying at work.

Oh who am I kidding. That's not going to happen. It's a good thing I have my own office with a door.

So, Ronni, I don't know how long we have left together. But however long that is, I want you to know how much I love you. You'll always have a home with me and a place by my side. I'll do everything I can to make you comfortable and happy and to show you how much you're loved. Because you are loved. You are so, so loved. I hope we have years together. I really do. But if we don't then I understand. I won't make you suffer because I'm not ready.

I love you, my good little BB.

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