Not many people know this, but Elizabeth had a miniature poodle, Bella was her name.
Bella had gotten very old and sickly. Suffering from arthritis and a deteriorating nervous system, poor Bella would go into convulsions during walks. After a few steps, her muscles would spasm and she would lurch backwards. After a few seconds, she would then be able to take a few more steps before the next spasm gripped her tiny, frail body.
While her eyesight was also failing, along with her balance, some referred to her as a zombie dog. During one of her daily walks, as she squatted to urinate, she lost her balance and fell over.
The family encouraged Elizabeth to take the compassionate path and end Bella’s suffering, to put her down, to choose euthanasia. Elizabeth refused, saying that the vet felt that Bella was “healthy as a horse” thanks to the multiple medicines and bespoke dog food as well as ultrasound treatments aimed at Bella’s arthritic joints.
No, Elizabeth would not have Bella put to sleep.
Until one day the family finally convinced her that it was the compassionate thing to do. Arrangements were made for Bella’s last visit at the vet’s.
All was going well, that is, until some local do-gooders convinced Elizabeth to let someone adopt Bella and take on the responsibilities related to keeping her alive. Off Bella went to her new home.
In her advanced years, Elizabeth is not sure if she wants to be told of Bella’s eventual passing, fearful that such news would be too much to bear, as inevitable as it is. Elizabeth prefers to dwell on how healthy she thinks Bella is, despite all the evidence to the contrary, buttressed by mountains of costly invoices for the treatments administered at the vet’s, by the stains left on Elizabeth’s carpets from Bella’s incontinence, by the seizures.
It is difficult to understand this anxiety with respect to learning of Bella’s death. In Elizabeth’s long life, as she is now nearing ninety, she has learned of many departures; her three brothers, her former husband and several boyfriends, close friends, idols, it’s a long list and it gets exponentially longer as one ages. Why would the news of Bella’s passing be any different?
Perhaps this relates to the nature of the relationship one has with a pet. Unlike people, pets never argue. Sure, they misbehave. They chew your shoes and furniture, urinate on your carpet, resist going for a walk in the rain, but they will never disagree with you on subjective matters, and even after a scolding, they won’t ghost you, but can be depended upon to snuggle up at your feet or on your lap. Perhaps Elizabeth cherished this unconditional bond so much that she wishes Bella will live forever. Only Elizabeth knows.
Meanwhile, the New York Times was compelled to run an article addressing the fate of Queen Elizabeth’s corgis, as if one of the richest families in the world can’t manage to deal with that dilemma. Without doubt the House of Windsor will manage it, while another Elizabeth will remain blissfully ignorant of the fate of her old poodle.