My dog is dying. I know there’s nothing I can do about it that hasn’t already been done and yet I feel an unsettling restlessness whenever I see him sprawled out on the floor, staring up at the ceiling calmly. His legs are bent in strange ways but I never want to rearrange him because he looks so tranquil on his eggshell bed, like a furry prince.

We’ve had the midnight scares when his eyes fill with ginger orange blood and my father wraps him in a flannel on the way to the hospital, but I can’t resign myself to the fact that I’m going to lose him soon, even though I know it’s certain. Without Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin is just a mixed up boy with uneven socks. Without my dog to anchor my household, my family is free to fly in every direction.

Max (not the generic “Max” in the vein of “Spot” or “Fido” but short for the gladiator Maximus Decimus) was the absolute definition of scrappy when my mother rescued him from a shelter and he’s gone through just about every stage—the baby, the young pup, the joyous dog-food-commercial adult. We used to be growing older at the same pace, but he hit his peak and now finds himself in decline. What kills me is his twitch—watching the degenerative disease that penetrates his chemistry is completely shattering. His legs are like chopsticks with claws, struggling to support his potato sack body of weight. I am a romantic at heart and in a perfect world, Max would live to be one hundred and wear an ugly dog bowtie at my wedding but I realize that that won’t happen. His face is in knots. He is crumbling as I climb to my own peak—his hair comes off in my hands and his eyes search in separate directions. I wish I knew what I was looking for so that I could help him find it before he can’t look anymore.