Technically she’s not my puppy, although I once had what could be considered partial custody of her.

And technically she’s not a puppy, as she’s almost nine years old.  9 in dog = roughly 65 in human.

None of that matters.  She had six teeth removed yesterday, including the four front bottom teeth.

Now, when you’re a dog, your four front bottom teeth are pretty damn important.

This is true for most animals.  Humans, for example, tend to suffer greatly upon the loss of their front four teeth (NOTE: this statement is pure conjecture), as it interferes with, you know, eating.  And smiling.  And probably some other stuff I can’t think of right now.

Dogs though, and especially domesticated dogs, and especially my puppy, rely on their four front teeth for eating, yes, and smiling (she smiles, I tell you), yes, but also for playing, which is the way she spends most of her life.  When I saw her today, she tried to bring me a ball to throw to her, but couldn’t bite down on it.  Then she batted the ball with her nose, but couldn’t make it go where she wanted it to go.  So she gave up.

A little while later, I watched her negotiate one of her rope chew toys.  She couldn’t bite down on it, which ruled out any kind of tugging game.  Her best and only option seemed to be to isolate individual strands, lick them, play with them, slowly see what she was capable of doing without pain.  It was all kind of sad, really.

I’m watching all this, and there’s sadness, and there’s awareness of mortality (both hers and mine), and helplessness, and a million other feelings, mostly on the sad side, although the whole thing is, on some level, kind of funny, or at least the part where she was drugged up last night and kept randomly falling down is kind of funny, although even that is kind of scary and messed up when you think about it.

But you know what were the three things my puppy did the most tonight?

She wagged her tail.  Constantly.  She threw herself on her back for belly rubs.  Repeatedly.  She licked my face.  Mercilessly.

Even in the face of what was unquestionable the worst, most fundamental suffering of her life, she was happy, she wanted to be happy, and she made herself happy.

I’m always happy to remember to learn from my puppy.