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It’s been just two months since we bade farewell to our ‘poor old Misty’, and now it seems her constant canine companion, Mookie, the darker-coloured one, will soon be joining her on the other side of rainbow bridge.

Misty’s passing caught us by surprise, old and arthritic though she was, and was definitive. But Mookie’s demise has been foreshadowed by ominous signs, like seizures, that all is not well. Perhaps more telling is that she’s off her food and actually leaves food in her bowl. She’s a golden retriever for God’s sake – they don’t do that. Something is awry, and the vet thinks it’s a brain tumour. Although we expect it may overtake her quite quickly, it will be a longer process than for her mate before her.

That leaves me in the position of some responsibility, and into the future, much agony.

Responsibility because, knowing she’s on a limited timeframe, it’s my duty as her mum to bring as much joy and pleasure into her remaining time as I can.

And agony, because at some point I’ll have to make the decision as to when the joy has been overridden by the bad stuff and it’s time to pull the plug. Just writing that makes tears well in my eyes, so let’s go back to the joy bit.

Mookie needs a bucket list, even though she doesn’t know it.

There are limitations to what we can do. She can’t travel overseas to see amazing places, because even if she did care about Paris or the Taj Mahal, the quarantine period to get her back into the country is too long. She doesn’t want to fly in a hot air balloon, and definitely would not enjoy jumping out of a plane. She wouldn’t be much chop at snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef, nor can I see her riding a camel in the Sahara.

So, what goes on a doggy bucket list? I asked Mookie what would make her life complete (because she doesn’t understand the concept of a bucket list) and this is what she came up with.

  1. Go for a short walk every day, preferably two. Sniff a lot, roll around on the grass half way round the block, and lay a big turd every time. Mum’ll get that.
  2. Swim at the lake. Pretend I am a young dog and dog paddle. (I don’t want to go to the beach with weird moving mounds of water, because last time I did that I tried to bite them and drank a quarter of the ocean which then exploded out of me for hours afterwards from every orifice, including my eyes, as I staggered along the beach and when I was carried and even in the car as Moo and Eeyore had to abandon their plan for a short holiday and take me back home instead to mum and Eeyyore had to rehearse on the way home different ways he could break the news to mum that the beach idea had gone very badly and had killed me. I don’t like the beach anymore even though I don’t know what being killed is.)
  3. Spend many days gardening, and by that I mean lie on the front lawn snoozing and move from one spot to another, watch the world go by and greet anyone who walks past. Score a pat from as many as possible.
  4. Catch the friggin’ cat from next door who scares the bejesus out of me in my own back yard when it jumps out from nowhere and hisses at me, and give it a good shake around (I know that’s really not achievable cos I’m way too slow and gentle, but this is about dreams).
  5. Spend a day with my old friend Betty, who is 92 (a bit older than me) and who has me for play dates at her house and who loves me as much as I love her, and follow her around like a shadow and maybe go for a walk with her or go to the dog park.
  6. Do a photo shoot with my mum at the park, because she’s besotted with me and loves photos, so that would make her happy.
  7. Maybe catch a sunset by the lake.
  8. Have a long, soft brush – along my back, but not my tail. Do not touch my tail. That can stay straggly and matted even though mum thinks it looks resplendent when it’s knot-free and all feathery.
  9. Avoid any. more. baths. They make me anxious and make my mouth froth, even if they make me smell nice. I’m okay with smelly. And dear God, when they bring out that massive hair dryer out that sounds like a rocket launcher and could dry out Lake Burley Griffin in 20 minutes, I’m outta there.
  10. Eat a macca’s caramel sundae. Small size only as large ones might give me freeze head, and it’s mostly about licking the cup anyway and getting all that sauce off.
  11. Give up dog food, even including those two huge bags of outrageously expensive special old dog and kidney health diet that my humans invested in just last week and which I now don’t like to eat. Eat human food only, like roast chicken, and prosciutto, and cheese, and leftovers, and maybe hot cross buns if Mum takes out the sultanas. Don’t want to overload my already struggling kidneys.
  12. Have a coffee date at Manuka, at somewhere trendy to be seen, and eat things people drop.
  13. Have a play date with Mango, fellow Goldie, who’s like my little sister and who I love a lot, even if I mostly ignore her while she’s around.
  14. Be with my humans all day long, and sleep under their feet while they watch TV in the evening, and sleep outside their room at night, just so they know I’m there.
  15. Get as many hits on my blog post as Misty got on hers, which was a lot. Not that I’m competitive.
  16. Maybe eat a dirty great big bone and get that bone smell all over my face.

I can’t think of anything else. I’m pretty bloody happy just as I am, really.

Oh, yes I’m being quite flippant about it all now, but before long my face will be a blotched and ruddy mess, my eyes will look like two piss-holes in the snow, my head will throb, and I will be a melted pool of misery on the floor. I will return to my house and it will be empty and there will be no wagging tail to greet me, no presence sleeping calmly in the corner, quietly, inconspicuously, but just there. And I will bemoan the loss of this gorgeous creature who I have adored and sat with and walked with and played with and gardened with and trained with and visited nursing homes with and even occasionally run with and loved for 12 and a half years.

But until then, away with the sadness, and on with the list. There are things to do.

If anyone has any other ideas, let me know.

Mookie would really appreciate it. She appreciates everything.

And she will keep you posted on how she’s going with the list.

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