They say bulldogs are stubborn. I don’t know if that is true or not. I have met some very compromising bulldogs. But there is one bulldog I know who was the most stubborn dog in the best possible way.
Let me introduce you to Nigel. He arrived at the Bridge this week with a story. We all knew the story but it is impolite to interrupt a friend when they are telling one, especially when you are meeting them nose to nose for the first time.
Months ago Nigel began to have trouble breathing and was very tired. The thing to know about us dogs is that we aren’t hypochondriacs We are good at figuring out what is wrong and Nigel knew his heart was failing and his lungs were filling with fluid. He loved his Mom and Dad so strongly the thought of leaving them broke his fading heart. But he also knew we are only given so many heartbeats and his were running short.
But then his Dad became very sick. His was admitted to the hospital. And he got one of the worst diagnosis a human can get: “I don’t know.” Nigel’s Mom had to devote all her time to Nigel’s Dad. And our little Bulldog friend was sure of one thing. He could not cause any more problems for his Mom. If he let ran out of heartbeats it would be too much for his Mom to bear. Plus he and his Dad were best buds. He could not go to the Bridge with his Dad in the hospital. That could send his Dad to the Bridge too. So there was only one thing he could do.
Unless it was absolutely necessary Nigel saved his heartbeats for his Dad. Nigel made sure he did not do anything that would add to his parents stress. He had always been a good boy, their brave little man. Humans often have to take care of their parents when they age. In this instance Nigel had to take care of his parents.
And he did. Nigel did such a good job that, after a long struggle, his father came home, regained his strength, and went back to work. Things returned to normal in their little home.
But Nigel’s heartbeats were still dwindling. He first tried to ignore it, and then he tried to hide it because he desperately wanted things to be normal for his parents after months of uncertainty.
The number kept coming down, into the hundreds, then down to the dozens.. Despite his stubbornness and determination his body betrayed him and began to fill with fluid. His parents took him to the vet and they gave them sad news. There was nothing anyone could do. All that was left was the final, difficult decision for his parents.
But Nigel had lived the last months of his life on his terms and he would leave on his own terms. While his parents slept he slipped away to the Bridge, sparing them the decision to help him to the Bridge (and the costly expense.)
When Nigel arrived here he was the most tired dog I have ever seen cross the Bridge. He had given so much energy to stay with his parents it took him a while to regain it on the immortal side of the Bridge. We put him in a swing and we let Tommy Tunes gently swing him back and forth until he awoke to see all his friends gathered around him.
And now Nigel breathes easier, and is more active but he still spends most of his day watching over his Mom and Dad. He wishes he had more heartbeats for them, but no one has ever stretched out their remaining heartbeats like Nigel.
And, if you listen close enough, you can still hear his heart softly beating on the breeze.