This blog isn’t about the 1970s sitcom, though I admit to that guilty pleasure. Who didn’t love the Regal Beagle as the name of the gang’s favorite pub? Plus Suzanne Somers was from my hometown. I read that the actor who played Mr. Roper was 53 when the show began airing. That can’t be…how can I be older than Stanley Roper, when I feel closer to Jack Tripper?
In this piece, three’s company refers to dogs. When I used to meet someone with two dogs who said they were plenty busy with a pair, I’d joke that they really needed a third. Then, my family added a third dog!
We have our “OG,” Murray, adopted almost 12 years ago. He turned 14 in January. He’s lost his muscle tone, he’s deaf, he’s having more accidents inside and is creaky. JoJo, is our almost four-yr-old SPCA adoptee and Teddy Mac, joined our family in December of 2020, as a pup, when family friends needed to rehome him due to their son’s allergies.
Logistics are interesting, beginning with meal time. Murray is on a strict diet due to food allergies, so he absolutely can’t have the other two dogs’ food and there’s nothing he wants more. Despite his age, he’ll still try to swipe stuff off counters, rummage through garbage cans and recycling bins and wait in the kitchen for “dropsies” when meals are prepped. JoJo picks at her food like a cat, with her cute underbite. Mac wolfs his down, then darts around to see what Murray and JoJo have left behind. It’s like musical chairs – but with food bowls – during every meal!
Then there are the personality dynamics. Murray is Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh and has been since his early years. He’s not interested in connecting with people or dogs. My father-in-law calls him the Professor (or, the Professa, in his gravely-from-cigarettes, New York accent). JoJo grew-up with him, loves him and leaps up to kiss his face every morning to greet him. He could care less. Mac can’t stand him, and Murray’s oblivious to that as well. JoJo and Mac get along like siblings. Similar size and play styles.
Murray, we’re afraid, is near what my vet calls the “meat and potatoes” stage. Allergies or no allergies, he’ll get to sample all the foods he’s never been able to enjoy when he has just weeks left and we’re preparing mentally. Our kids haven’t experienced a close loss yet and Murray has been a constant companion throughout their lives, so there’s more preparing.
How will we know when it’s time? If his mobility becomes more problematic than his increasingly frequent slips on the wood floors, we might be there. We’ve added carpets in high traffic areas to help with his traction and I carry him up or down stairs. We’re at that awful stage most of us with pets have experienced: waiting for a sign that tells us it’s time. The day where he can’t get up without us. When he won’t eat. When we see a different look in his eyes.
It’s time for my family to follow the advice I’ve given to so many others over the years. I know from seeing people at this stage and from speaking with vets that most owners wait too long, which is understandable. This is a god awful thing we have to do, but also the greatest gift we can give our loved pets…our family members. We’ll give “Uncle Murray” (he has many nicknames!) love and attention whether he shows that he likes it or not, and do what we can do to make him comfortable until we get that sign.
Editor's Note: The Delucchi family said goodbye to Murray just a few days after this blog was shared. Murray was surrounded with love and cared for with the gentle compassion of the SPCA's humane euthanasia services. And yes, Murray did get to enjoy some special treats before he passed.