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Inside Pawjourr: Her Aging Paws

Sherlyn YangFebruary 18, 2022~ 5 mins read

When I got Bubi

I am an only child. My life was dead set on staying ahead of the curve through tuition and enrichment classes. The days felt long and mundane. Before long, I began to yearn for a companion I could come home to. A companion who would pull me from these cold, dull greys.

On my seventh birthday, my mom drew the curtains to the bright morning sun. She said something about taking me to lunch with her friends, so I paid her no mind and followed her. 

Perhaps it was then that I would learn something my textbooks could never teach me.

I remember hearing the pitter-patter of tiny feet scrambling behind the door. I remember tugging my mother’s blouse in anticipation, in anxiety, overwhelmed by the opportunity presented before me. Mother’s friend has a pet dog who had just birthed a litter of puppies and was looking to give these kids new, loving homes. Who could’ve known? Not me, that’s for sure.

So began the warm days with my new Silky Terrier pup, Bubi. The journey back home with Bubi was mixed with glee and uncertainty, but I was resolute in giving her my share of forever.

Our Journey Together So far

Years later, Bubi and I have grown and matured as individuals joined at the hip. Come hell or high water, I knew I could count on her to be my little emotional support Bubi, and she could always lean on me no matter what.

At 10 years old (around 60 in dog years), Bubi started developing tumours around her belly, a concerning discovery for the Yang household. We hurriedly sought medical advice at the nearest veterinary clinic, fingers crossed and praying the tumours were benign.

My vet braced us for the worst — the tumour could be easily removed surgically, but there’s a high chance Bubi (an elderly dog) might not wake up after being put under anaesthesia. Fear gripped us all. It would be an immediate fix, but the risk of our dear Bubi not waking up… and her condition was still stable…

We decided to hold off on the surgery. 

It happened in the middle of class. I was preparing for my O’Levels at school when my phone buzzed. Granddad was frantic. Said that Bubi seemed very weak, that pus had begun to leak from her urinary tract. He was on the way to the vet, and I should remain calm until the next call. But how could I? My best friend is at death’s door, her health is in critical condition and I might not have another chance to see my beloved Bubi. How could I not panic?

Mustering what little strength I had, I rushed to the clinic. The hallway outside the operating room was tight and narrow, and the cold, stale air almost seemed to drain the life out of me. I prayed and prayed for Bubi to walk out of there like the little rockstar she is, face full of joy to see us as she wags her tail. Which is exactly what happened. Our trooper greeted us spirited as ever; my prayer was answered. 

That day made it painfully clear that the days I have left with her are precious, and that every moment spent with her must be held close and cherished.

Months flew by and her tumour began to re-emerge despite countless measures to keep her health in tip-top condition. We immediately went ahead with surgery; we already knew how the alternative went. While Bubi recovered very well from the anaesthetic, cleaning her wound proved to be an unforeseen challenge. My mother and I were afraid of causing more discomfort for Bubi, but pulled through and took turns dressing her wounds. We wanted Bubi to know that we will always be by her side and that we could be relied on when the going gets tough. My fear of losing Bubi still crept up on me from time to time, as I would find myself checking on her — the rise and fall of her chest, and sigh that came from each breath she released. It weighs me emotionally and mentally, but it is one I must no doubt carry to the end of our journey.

Bubi Post-Surgery

Time will not come between us

As Bubi ages, I receive a lot of  “Oh she doesn’t have much time left”, “Have fun with her while she is still here”, and most upsettingly, “Why do you still have to buy her things? She might leave anytime soon”. Every receipt of these comments leaves me despairing over the inevitable I refuse to look at. These hollow remarks, these unwanted reminders that only stings senior pet owners like me, telling us what we already know — our pets will be leaving us behind soon. 

I would rather drown that negativity and have it bring me down. 

Bubi may be old, but she is family. She is my family, and she is loved and treasured in this household. Not because of how little time I have left with her, but in spite of it. It took a lot in me to disregard these comments, and I am not one to tell people off for it. The thought of mortality and loss is immensely heart-wrenching. Some might choose to avert their eyes from the gaze of an inevitable separation. In my moments of weakness, I still let that pain grasp me (albeit ever-so-gently) that the inevitable still ought to be faced head-on. Let us stay strong for our pets and help them live out an amazing life.

Just because your pet is old does not mean that you should love them any less. Every mark and wrinkle testament to the memories you have made together, proof of the time spent growing up by each other’s side. As they age and become less vocal, start paying attention to their actions — that will be their new ‘language’.

As humans, we step out of our homes each day, exploring the world family both nuclear and found. When we come back to rest, our pets never fail to be there, a purr, a bark, and nothing but innocent ecstasy to welcome us home. We are all they will ever know. Their world, their universe, their every day and every moment. It’s us — their family. 

I’d like to believe, no— I want to believe, that when our pets cross those pearly gates, they will find their way back to us in another form. I want to believe that when the extremely heart-breaking time comes for Bubi, she too will find her way back to me. Treasure your pets and love them regardless of age, we owe it to them to walk the whole journey of life beside them. 

A Letter to Bubi: 

Thank you for growing up with me and loving me unconditionally. Through the toughest of hurdles I had to go through, I could always count on you to be there for me whenever I got back home, greeting me with your excited barks and tail wags. My heart always rests easy with you by my side. I am so incredibly fortunate to be your sister and watch your growth from a young puppy. Thank you for teaching me patience and compassion. 

I remember staying up late watching “A Dog’s Journey” with you by my side sleeping and unaware of where the plot will take us. The movie came to an end, the emotions came in waves, and I hugged you so tight because to me, you are my Bailey. The movie followed a dog who would always return to its former owner, no matter how many lifetimes it took and no matter what circumstances stood between them. The harsh truth of our inevitable separation cuts deep, but please find your way back to me every time. I promise that I will be there for you throughout all your lives. 

As your eyes begin to cloud, I pray that you can still see us and smile. As your paws start aging and bones start weakening, I pray that you still have enough strength to go down for walks. As your fur begins to grey, I pray to have more days with you. As your barks get softer, I pray that you will continue being your bubbly self and full of personality.

Thank you for being the overprotective sister I never had. The only sibling I have ever known. The love I have for you will forever be etched deep in my heart and remain with me for a lifetime. 

Let’s have a good life together.

– Sherlyn.

* This blog is designed to be a community where pet owners can learn and share. The views expressed in each post are the opinion of the author and not necessarily endorsed by Pawjourr. Always consult your veterinarian for professional advice.


Sherlyn Yang

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