People light up when they see Mattingly — he’s just sort of an improbable dog. He’s half German Shepherd and half Basset Hound, and people make a very particular face when they try to picture how that happened. Matty is also perhaps the friendliest and most social dog I’ve ever met. He’s good with all types of people, loves children, doesn’t get aggressive, and he has a boundless enthusiasm for company. He’s considerate and won’t bite your fingers when you give him a treat.

So when Matty’s health started declining rapidly after Christmas, we were looking at a very sad end to the year. He was clearly in a lot of pain. We sat up with him most of the night of the 30th and spent the morning saying goodbye before Amber took him to the vet on the 31st.

A couple of hours later she called with good news. Matty had a treatable bladder infection and a slipped disc in his neck. At our New Years’ party Matty was heavily medicated, but after the countdown he was too excited to sit in the bedroom by himself and joined the party.

With luck Matty will be feeling a lot better in a week or so. I’m not sure how much more time we have with this sweet old man, so I’m treating all of this — especially the party — as a big New Years’ gift.

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