The Dog starts having accidents around the house. They are always in the same place, near the back door, where he is usually let out into the yard to do what he needs to. So far, it has only happened when we were away a bit too long.
I vow to be more careful about making sure he gets out more often, and right before I leave if I’m stepping out for a while.
One day, as I’m getting ready to leave, I realize: I used to take him with me everywhere in the car. At some point, for some reason I don’t quite recall, I stopped, and then it stopped being a habit, and then he stopped expecting to leave with me.
I take a couple days off work to do things before the holidays, and since I’m at my leisure, and I can once again maneuver around my garage, I put The Dog in the back of my car. He can go with me to the hardware store.
He doesn’t like sitting in the passenger seat anymore, he’s very arthritic now and can’t seem to get comfortable. He tries to climb into the back of the car, but needs my help to do it.
I’m in no hurry. When he’s settled in, I drive off. I glance at him in the back, and he’s alert, looking around, feeling the motion of the car. He can’t hear much any more, but his other senses are fine, and he’s happy.
The brief ride exhausts him, and he sleeps for the rest of the day.
We do the same the next day when I go to the post office. I have to lift him into the back of the car – a Mini, not a big jump, but still, too much. Afterward, again, he’s exhausted, but also, very, very happy.
I used to walk with him every morning, a long brisk walk that was my time: My exercise, my head-clearing, my time with The Dog. I find it difficult to take those walks now; The Departed’s main contribution to parenting was driving The Child to school in the morning, which I must now do.
Of course I could walk him at other times, and I do, but it’s difficult. The Dog’s stroke slowed him down considerably, and his arthritis became more severe. The walks mostly consist of taking a few brisk steps and then standing still, in the dark and rain, waiting for The Dog to catch up, watching him meander and sniff things. Lots of leash-tugging and Hurry Up‘s that were mostly for venting frustration, since The Dog cannot hear them.
After seeing his joy in the car, I take him for an evening walk. He’s ecstatic when he sees the leash, though he no longer wags to show his enthusiasm. I miss our long brisk walks and I miss his wagging.
We walk slowly and I can see the effort it takes him and also the joy in his meandering. I don’t pull him or try to speed him. I just watch him sniff at things and look up, happily.
He keeps moving. He knows I want him to keep moving but sometimes it is too much for him. I lean over and adjust his collar and fiddle with the leash, and he waits and rests a bit.
When we get home, he follows me upstairs. It’s a huge effort, the stairs, and one he does not make as often any more. He prefers to be near me, around people, and even that is too hard for him now.
There is only one possible ending to every story.
I’m in no hurry.