The Postscript: Bonus months with my dog, Milo

Published 11:45 am Wednesday, September 5, 2018

By Carrie Classon


My dog Milo is sick and I’m afraid it’s the kind of sick you don’t get better from.

Milo was sick before—fourteen months ago. He lost his appetite and developed what my husband, Peter, called, “the hurky-jerkies.” These were like twenty-four-hour-a-day hiccups that would not stop. We brought him to the vet and he was x-rayed and scanned. He screamed in pain during the examination and had to be muzzled. The vet told us he had terminal cancer and we were sent home with a pile of pain meds and no hope. I promised Milo I would take care of him—and I wouldn’t let him go through that kind of pain again.

We were told Milo would be dead in “weeks if not days.” So we had a send-off party. All Milo’s best friends got together and told Milo stories around a bonfire and he got gifts sent all the way from Massachusetts.

Except he didn’t die.

He languished for eight months, getting a bit better, then a bit worse. We figured he was just taking his time dying and, as long as he wasn’t in any pain (the pain meds went unused), we decided we would let him figure it out. Finally, when he was already skeletally thin, he went on a 22-day fast where he ate nothing at all and barely touched water. On day 22, the hurky-jerkies stopped for the first time and we thought the end had to be close.

Then, on day 24, he staggered into the kitchen and asked for something to eat.

Peter, gave him a piece of bread. He ate it and asked for another. Soon, he was eating dogfood again. I fed him high calorie dogfood and, in less than three months, he became plump.

Everyone called Milo “the miracle dog.” He shed his old coat and grew short, new puppy fur. His nose got shiny again. He visited my parents at their lake cabin and stayed with his buddy, Joe, while we were away—riding shotgun into town every day for coffee in Joe’s red Corvette convertible.

He played his favorite game, “jail,” with Peter, where Peter tells Milo he is going to jail and Milo pretends to believe him, dashes into the kitchen looking for Peter, finds him, then runs away as fast as he can, evading arrest. (It’s a ridiculous game and I don’t know who enjoys it more, Milo or Peter.) Milo had a fantastic half year.

Then, less than a week ago, Milo stopped eating. Peter looked at him, lying on the landing to the stairs.

“The hurky-jerkies are back,” Peter said. And they were.

But this time, things did not go slowly. He stopped eating completely. He stopped drinking and now, as I write this, he is on those pain meds he never needed before and it doesn’t look as if they are working. He is crying and my heart is breaking.

Yesterday I told John, another friend of Milo’s, that Milo was dying—except this time for real. “He had six great bonus months,” I told John.

John, who is a computer geek and not generally philosophical, replied “I think we’re all living on bonus months.”

I guess John is right.

I talk to Milo. I slip ice chips between his lips. I remind him what a good dog he is and has always been. Milo has been a good friend to me and now I need to be a good friend to him although—right at this moment—I’m not quite sure how I can do that.

Till next time,