Emotional Support
Closing ThoughtsOpinion

Emotional Support

Shaindle shares what dogs, and pets in general, have meant to her family over the years.

Shaindle Schmuckler spreads her energy and humor as a regular contributor to the Atlanta Jewish Times.

Shaindle Schmuckler
Shaindle Schmuckler

My sisters and I did not have a pet growing up in an apartment in The Bronx. Actually, none of the residents of our apartment building had a pet, either dogs or cats. My mom and dad were very afraid of dogs. Memories of the ‘old country.’

Let me clarify my previous statement. If you insist upon calling Tweety Bird a pet, then.

OK, we had a pet. Actually, my mom had a pet. Disgusting as it was, and a pooping king to boot! I was terrified of Tweety Bird. Truth be known, I am still a bit terrified of birds.

I love their beauty. I love to see them in flight. And, when I sit on my back porch, I love hearing the melodies all the birds on my property sing.

I generally leave my screen door, leading from the back porch to the back of the property, open a mere crack. I do this in order for Ari to travel in and out at his leisure. I must always look both ways before exiting my kitchen through my French doors to my porch, given the birds who dwell in our trees, somehow find that itty bitty opening.

Gene and I chose to adopt dogs from the very beginning of our life together. Our girls, in particular — our oldest, loved those dogs. She is still an animal lover and animal advocate. This child, my first born, carried a huge snake around her neck. Why, you ask? Ask yourselves why do our children ever do anything they do? I couldn’t begin to venture a guess.

We blessed our dogs with such interesting and creative names. Chien (“dog” in French), Tippesh (“stupid” in Hebrew) Patches, Shaina, Ariel. We were very fortunate in that our dogs were well behaved and loving. Well, except our dog in Stone Mountain, but let’s not dwell on him. We returned him to the farm where he hailed from.

As each of the girls become empty nesters, an emotional support dog seems to be the salve for their sadness.

Raina’s dog’s name is Joey. Marla’s dog’s name is Kirby – go Dawgs. Lisie’s dog will arrive in about a year. Amie does not have a dog, YET. Her children have a way to go, before making her an empty nester in need of an emotional support dog.

What is the point of this shpiel? Why create an entire shpiel about a dog? Well, I find myself in need some emotional support. Ari, our cockapoo, celebrated his bar mitzvah this year. Yes, he turned the ripe old age of 91 (in dog years). He’s slowing down, showing his age.

These last few weeks have proven to be a real challenge for me. He continues to be engaged with us, he continues to walk outside, albeit at a much more leisurely pace. Because he has an enlarged heart, he is on water reduction medication. This means he can no longer hold his pishy all night long. One of the side effects of these meds is I wake up each morning expecting a big wet area near my front door.

I have begun to be grateful for that puddle. It tells me he made it through the night. Given his bed is in the family room, my beautiful wood floors at the front door seems to be his favored ‘spot’ of release.

He eats very little; he’s not even interested in his doggie ice cream (this makes me question whether or not he’s a true Schmuckler. We Schmucklers do not have any issues or problems cleaning our plates. We certainly do not have any problems devouring our ice cream).

It’s all very disconcerting. I am constantly checking his breathing. At night, I sleep in starts and stops. All through the night I find myself going downstairs to check his breathing. I took him to his vet, who feels his organs, heart and breathing are all OK. She does not think he is quite ready to ‘go.’

I am looking forward to a full night’s sleep. I actually look forward to that big wet spot at my front door. What I am not looking forward to is his departure.

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