Friday, March 30, 2012

Life with Two Very Old Dogs

14 years

Only my very new readers won't recognize Fat Charlie and Mama Pajama. They are litter mates who were born in June of 1997, which - for the math-challenged folks like me - means they'll be fifteen in June of this year.


3 months

They have been best pals. They grew up chasing each other, curled up together, playing tug of war with countless toys. I don't understand when people say it's a bad idea to keep two puppies. How could seeing the above photo all the time in real life be a bad idea? 

They are fragile now. Our twisting, steep, narrow stairs are a nightmare. Shoot, the four steps from the yard to the porch and from the yard to the breezeway are life threatening. The two old dogs don't want my help. "I can do this," they say. As I approach to help, they get a "Oh no you don't" look on their sweet faces and they hurl themselves -- OH LORD PLEASE WAIT -- with varied levels of success. Or (crash) failure.

My heart skips several beats. 

I congratulate them "You made it!" or I rub their owies and sympathize.

Mama Pajama will feel around with a front foot for the first step up to the porch. Seeing her do this ... I don't know how to share with you, dear readers, the effect that simple action has on me. Can you imagine? I break a little bit, and I'm impressed with her resourcefulness, and I think of her flying in first in a Best In Field run, and of her jumping in my arms light as an unspoken prayer. Landing so softly that I didn't have to catch her; landing with a paw on either side of my neck and a whisper of here I am, your darling Mama Pajama, and here I'll stay in your arms.

Fat Charlie wears Poise Pads in a belly band at night. I spread incontinence bed pads all over the upstairs before we go to sleep, and pick them up in the morning. Fat Charlie, who never once had an accident in the house, and if another dog did? Oh he would look just as guilty as sin. Distraught. Somebody peed in the house, this is not a good day! 

His aim is pretty darn good, and what doesn't get caught by the Poise pad mostly ends up on the Chux. And I have plenty of cleaning products.

And then there are mornings like today. My two Very Old Dogs woke up full of piss 'n vinegar! They were jumping (in a kattywonkus, tilt o' wheel kind of way) and wagging and bouncing Good Morning cheer all over me. 

They raced each other down those Nightmare On Elm Street stairs: clump thump crash made it! I opened the kitchen door and both of the stinkers skipped the four steps to the yard entirely. They launched! OH DEAR GOD, PLEASE LAND ON ALL FOURS!

They did. 

Mama Pajama ran a few strides and then did her reigning horse spins. I think she whirled ten times without stopping. When she did come to a standstill, it was more of a wobble, but she wore a huge grin, from her toes to her sweet little nose. 

Fat Charlie did laps. He ran full speed the length of the yard. A whole 120 feet. Even in his dotage when he pours it on, he covers some serious ground. Only the steering doesn't work so well. I cover my eyes but squint through my fingers. Mama Pajama ducks in the nick of time. I can breathe now; Fat Charlie has stopped to pee. His breath comes in raspy 'hekhs'. Happy raspy 'hekh, hekh, hekhs'. 

And that, dear readers, that makes for a glorious day. Two Very Old Dogs at 6:30 in the morning and my heart is so full of joy and ... oh, bless them.

hug your hounds