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Who else but your dog will look at you with complete love and devotion as you floss your teeth? Even when I was in the “bonding phase” with the two most important men in my life, and for the first few years we couldn’t keep our hands off each other except in the shower together, I was very concerned about watching my activities in the bathroom Draw the line. Anne has been confined to her apartment for the past two months as she recuperates from cruciate ligament surgery to repair a torn muscle in her knee. Day in and day out, she watched me do anything.

She spends so much time looking at me that I believe if she had opposing thumbs she could blow dry her hair herself.

Annie’s torn cruciate ligament came out of nowhere. On the first Tuesday in November, she was chasing Mr. Squirrel, but the next day she was limping and yelling, unable to put her weight on her right hind leg. That Friday, a canine orthopaedic surgeon implanted a two-inch metal plate into her kneecap, securing it with screws. For the first two weeks, Annie had to leave her apartment and go outside on a leash to go to the bathroom. Since she couldn’t put her weight on her hind legs, I made a sling out of a long scarf so I could lift her up and hug her hind legs as she walked.

But she’s a 50 pound girl and my neck and back are out of order, but that’s okay. Anything goes for my Annie.

I know she feels better because this is her “I’m bored” look. She let out a sigh, then leaned her nose against the railing and just stared at me.

Anne had just turned her fifth birthday, and she still had many years to go. I wanted to make sure she was healthy, fit and able to enjoy every lizard and squirrel she encountered. To this end, I have always strived to be a responsible and hardworking caregiver. I made an Excel spreadsheet so I knew when she needed three painkillers, and set an alarm on her phone to wake me up at 12:30, 3:00, and 4:30 a.m. for her meds, eat something at the same time, and then hopefully I can go back to sleep. I put a cold compress from the fridge on her lap to help reduce the swelling, and when it’s time to eat, I sit on the floor in front of her apartment and hand feed her so she doesn’t have to stand up. During all this I didn’t hear any noise from my girl. She is so nice!

If you’ve ever loved a dog, all of this will make sense to you, including taking her to physiotherapy — cold laser treatment of her knee twice a week in another city, and she’s in the water walk on the treadmill. I don’t want to think about how much all this cost me. It might be a first-class round-trip ticket to Bora Bora, but I can’t put a price on loving a dog, sick or healthy, and having them love you in return. This is what you do when you love someone.


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