We always get to choose what we want for our birthday dinner, and Cybil is no exception.

11 years ago, today, she chose us to be her forever family at the Chester County SPCA. I remember driving home after doing the paperwork, paying the fees, promising to get her spayed… She needed a forever name. Her temporary shelter name was Sparkle. She had been picked up as a stray, so no one knew what her first name had been, and Sparkle just wasn’t gpoing to cut it.

We bandied a few names around, and all of a sudden we hit upon CYBIL. Cybil Shepherd. She agreed, and that was that.

September 9, 2003

She made herself right at home, immediately. We brought her out back to play ball – the basic dog-and-people game – but she never quite grasped the concept of giving the ball back. She never has, either. Ball, to her, is throw me the ball and I’ll just keep it, thankyouverymuch. Any sort of “fetch” game has been the same.  She will go run and get whatever it is you throw, but the then decides that you gave it to her so she doesn’t have to give it back. Very one-sided games.

But what she lacks in ability to play dog games, she has more than made up for in her general playfulness. She loves to just play.

And then, one day quite recently, we realized she’s become an old dog. She still has her spark and still has her playfulness, but she also has some pretty rough arthritis in her hind legs that makes it difficult for her to get up, and, she has renal failure. She’s running on about 25% of her kidneys.

Definitely not what we wanted or needed to hear.

September 9, 2014

It’s been hard watching her the past couple of months and even more difficult as she loses interest in food. She’s on a special renal diet she barely likes, so her Vet has told us to go ahead and cook for her. We have medications to help bind phosphorus, so, just about anything is okay – within reason, of course.

So… tonight she got her beef stew!  It’s always been one of her favorites and it’s actually pretty healthy! She cleaned up her bowl and licked the porcelain clean, wagging her tail all the while. It was a joy to see her eat so well.

Come to think of it, Nonna pretty much cleaned her bowl, as well. Maybe my beef stew has magical properties…

We don’t know how many birthdays she has left with us, but we do know that every day is going to be just like a birthday, from here on out. We’ve spoiled her rotten and she’s spoiled us. It really is the least we can do.

And as for a recipe, tonight?!? I don’t have a recipe for stew. It’s stew. You just make it. I always add a cup or so of coffee because my mother always added a cup or so of coffee. Sometimes I’ll add some wine instead of coffee, but it pretty much depends on my mood.

It’s stew. You just make it.

And when it’s birthday stew, you make a lot so there’s plenty of leftovers for the birthday puppy!