I’ve been taking Comet out for very early morning walks. We hit the road around 2:30am and meander around town for just 15-20 minutes. I can’t seem to sleep at this time and I get bored and lonely up alone for all those hours at home. Unless I get Comet up to walk with me, her company is nullified because she’s such a heavy sleeper that she’s oblivious to my presence downstairs doing things at that hour anyway. I can see her age (almost nine) starting to manifest much more noticeably since her surgery this past spring. Her energy level has been dialed down from her previous, more youthful whir to a very low-key buzz. It takes a much more enthusiastic greeting or scrumptious stimulus to rouse her from her bed when she’s resting, which is her mainstay activity these days. She also seems grumpier than she used to be, whether because of boredom from activity limitations, the cold weather setting in (which she’s always despised), or the resurgence of pain in her operated knee or from resultant anxiety I’m unsure. The outcome is the same however: she is not the lively nor happy pup she once was. Fortunately, she still does display joy and adoration of us, but it’s sad to feel like she’s not feeling well and is aging rapidly.
I would say I’m not coping with these changes well. I feel the fragility of life, and that she’s slowly slipping away from me. She’s a healthy dog, aside from her injury, so there’s no reason to believe she shouldn’t live another five or six years, but it’s upsetting to see big, sudden jumps in functional and behavioral decline. It makes me feel like she will tumble rapidly into total debility; though I can logically reason this shouldn’t be the case, that’s where my worst-case-scenario brain instinctively goes. I don’t like imagining my life where she’s increasingly uninvolved, let alone no longer present. Because I am home alone all day and sleep alone upstairs, Comet is truly my only living, breathing companion during the day and I rely on her involvement to generate a feeling of companionship.
Increasingly, I find myself obsessively researching getting and training a cat to be a bedtime companion. It’s not that a cat would ever replace my love for Comet, but I am so lonely at night and up in the upsetting throws of insomnia that it’s breaking me. I can actually feel myself crumbling psychologically at night because of the hours of empty loneliness. It’s tough enough to be physically up and without companionship for all those countless hours, but far worse is the fact that I’m up because of physical pain and/or graphic, revolting nightmares from PTSD. As I writhe around with joint pain, tortured by the haunted memories of what happened to me, I can’t help but feel having a sweet, slumbering cat in my empty bed to pet will comfort me and maybe ease my pain. Sometimes, I call my husband to come up for just a minute to help me try to get comfortable again (for example, to help me get to the bathroom safely if I’m really dizzy or to help me reshape my weighted blanket to better distribute the weighted beads). While I truly do need his help for these quick tasks, I also find I occasionally stall and delay his trip back to his room simply because I’m so lonely and distraught from a dream or inundated with pain that I’m needing the connection (even if so brief and he’s cranky!) to stave up the vomiting or emotional meltdown I feel seizing up in my body and mind. It seems likely that a feline bedmate whom has warmed her way into my animal-loving heart would largely pacify my emotional distress and isolation.
Unfortunately, while I think Comet—who has always demonstrated a belief that she identifies as a cat—would also love a feline family member (more company for her), Ben is very allergic and doesn’t want to do the allergy shots. It is not workable to have a cat in the house when one member is allergic to the dander. It’s not like having a celiac member under the roof wherein we can still allow a gluten-y kitchen so long as I have all of my own cookware and areas to prepare food. So alas, I know the hours I spend looking for cats to adopt is completely futile, but it’s a compulsion I haven’t been able to quell for months; rather, it’s been building momentum such that I even whisper goodnight to my fantasy cat some nights if I happen upon a bio of a local one that pulls on my heartstrings.
With all this said, Comet will always remain my love. My priority is, and will be, what is best for her. If that means resting, she can rest all day. I just want her to be happy and feel loved.