Pollo is the greatest dog in the world as far as dogs go. As far as humans go, he is one of the greatest friends to have.
His life began in a puppy mill outside of Lancaster, but out of our ignorance about origins of most pet shop dogs, he ended up in our family. We could have worked him like many other golden retrievers, but instead, let him do what he did best, be a dog. We have a huge fenced in yard, so he can just patrol or run full tilt if he would like. He also has gotten to enjoy our inground pool whether jumping in from the side or off from the diving board. In recent years, he has enjoyed better than the kibble I have strictly served him courtesy of youg children.
Pollo is now 13, which in people years is 97 years old. But guess what. He still has that puppy-excitement in him. That is all we have ever seen from him. The groomer often refers to him as “the Happy Golden.” We have taken him to the vet every year for his annual exams and shots.
Our works schedules were not the best for someone who has been so faithful and loyal a companion as Pollo. Having only a couple of felines keeping him company, he seemed content just napping all day, and occasionally rooting through an occasional bath towel. But the moment we came home, right by our side.
It is hard for Pollo these days. Over the years, he has developed “fatty tumors” which our vet has told us, for a dog his age, not really an issue at this point, as long as they do not cause him any discomfort. There are several now, and some quite large. But Pollo shows no signs of discomfort. I am trained in animal care, so I know what to look for, head tilt, eating and bathroom habits, lethargy, and so on. He is still the puppy from thirteen years ago.
His decision to enjoy a mushroom buffet in our backyard was not one of his shining moments of intelligence last year, but following that incident, his age is beginning to show very quickly, and not just from the whitening of his muzzle.
Though is favorite spot to get comfortable is on our hardwood floors, it is nearly impossible for him to stand if on that surface. And he now struggles to get up the stairs to our bedroom, “ours” meaning Wendy, myself, and Pollo – where he has been his whole life.
Pollo has always shadowed Wendy and I. While he spends a great deal of time sleeping, he wants the company. No matter which room of the house we are in, he is there. If I am sitting on a particular chair in one of the rooms that he is already in, even in his sleep, somehow he moves towards me, that within minutes, he is laying on top of my feet. There is nothing like fur slippers during July. Upstairs, downstairs, inside, outside, he is with us all the time. He does not necessarily have separation anxiety, it is just that when he knows we are at home, he wants to be with us.
For some time now, he has been approaching our stairwell with great reservation. He will climb with his front paws resting on the first step, and just stare at the mountainous climb before him. I imagine he takes in a deep breath and then begins his laborous ascent, one step at a time. When he arrives at the top, he proceeds right to his open cage in our bedroom, and plops right down inside it. I have not closed the door in years as he has never been a dog to jump up on the bed, even if he wanted to, between gravity and his size, he would have as much success as Louie Anderson doing a double front summersault of a 10 meter platform. But at some point, he ventures from his metal cave/den, and then lays down by my side of the bed which is where he is when I wake up. He waits until I am completely ready for work, and have fed the guinea pig, and then he follows me downstairs and we complete the rest of our morning routine with each other.
But a few days ago, the task of going up steps is clearly becoming too much of a burden. Still no whimper or obvious sign of pain or distress, he is intent on staying with us during the overnight. For the last two nights, I have blocked off our den (leading into our kitchen), and both times he has bulled his way through the chairs (clearly not being able to hurdle them), and each of the last two mornings, there he has been, right by my side. Even as I heard his paws on the hardwood floors last night as we turned in for the night, and went downstairs to interfere with his plans to get up the stairs, returned him back to the den, at some point, he made his way through the blockade again.
I could not ask for a better dog, or committed and loyal friend.