I first met Royston fourteen years stealing melon from a pig. Six months old and malnourished he was an odd looking longhaired dachshund, but Julie and I had an instant connection to him. Since then Royston has become my sidekick…or have I become his.
As dog’s go, Royston has achieved quite a bit. A photo was carried in the last space shuttle missions. His face appeared on the side of a Red Bull F1 car at the British Gran Prix a couple of years ago. He’s competed in wiener dog races. One of my proudest moments was seeing him cross the finish line on a jumbotron in slomo. He’s come to book signings. He’s whitewater rafted. He’s traveled up and down the country. Having the personality he has, he’s got into buildings and national monuments that animals aren’t allowed.
He definitely has a dachshund’s personality. He’s cantankerous and crafty which makes him both fun and a chore. I don’t think I’ve met a dog with such a strong sense of right and wrong. Just don’t jaywalk and wear a hat in his presence. He marshals all our other animals, cats and chickens alike.
But for everything he’s done, Julie and I realize that age is catching up with Royston. A lot of silver has crept into his fur. He doesn’t quite have the sprint in his little legs that he once had. He sleeps a lot more now. He went deaf a year ago and he’s losing his eyesight. He has pancreatitis which means we have to make his food from scratch every day. He has to take medication for allergies and his eyes daily. Despite these issues, he’s still in good shape and still loves life. He still has a lot of life left in him, but I know in my heart of hearts, we know he’s in his twilight years, which is heartbreaking. I think there’s a quote (by George Carlin, I believe) that goes along the lines of: “To welcome a pet into your life is to invite tragedy into your home.”
But I believe and hope Royston has a few more good years in him. That said, I want to make sure I give him all that he wants from life. Inspired by a couple of news stories about pet owners with terminally ill dogs who gave their pets a royal send off, like them, I’ve decided to make up a bucket list for him.
So here’s his bucket list (which is my promissory note to him):
1. He loves motorcycles, so a ride in a motorcycle sidecar. If you live in the Bay Area and you have one…get in touch.
2. Take him on a boat as he loves to travel and he’s not been on one yet.
3. Take him to the beach as he likes to dip his toes.
4. Make sure he always a slingshot monkey toy which is his favorite toy. I have this one done as I bought a sack load of these to last him years.
5. Make sure I take him to one of his favorite walks at least once a week.
6. Cross a few more state lines with him.
7. Tell him his good boy every day.
8. Take him on a train ride.
9. Always have some time carved out for him every day.
10. Give him the best life possible.
This is only the start of the list. I think Royston and I have plenty of time to keep adding to it. J