Keeping Upright

Dearest Rachel –

Sometimes, I find myself wondering how far Chompers has declined since your passing, or if you were just that uncomplaining about dealing with him – apart from the fact that no amount of massaging your lower back (which I know, you were always thoroughly grateful for) had any lasting effect. Keeping up with keeping him up is a crazy difficult task, especially as we’re aging as he is.

Not that he necessarily seems all that concerned about staying upright at times. Nary fifteen minutes after bringing him in from one venture outdoors, and he’s whining and barking yet again. Well, as he’d been watered and wasn’t due to be fed for another three or four hours, I decided I’d had enough (especially since the gang – including Dana, after a long absence! – were online as we continue to do each Sunday), and set him outside on his own in the backyard. Besides, he might need to poop or something, and that may take some time; I mean, it’s not like I could dig it out of him.

And he was fairly peaceful for the course of a couple of rounds of whatever it was we were playing, actually. But eventually, I could hear him barking – and I’m not sure I just wasn’t listening for it for a couple of minutes, as well. So, rather than drive the neighbors crazy with his incessant complaining, I figured I’d better bring him in, and let someone else win the round we were playing.

I found him pretty much in the same spot in the yard I had originally set him down; evidently, he’d just let his legs drop out from under him right away. He hadn’t laid an egg or anything, but his undercarriage was soaked. Clearly, this didn’t bother him, though – and you’ve heard me speculate about that before as to whether this is by design or not.

Whatever. Bleagh. Time for one of those disinfecting wipes, and hope it does something about that. I don’t think he enjoys it when I do this, and hope he’d just as soon not have that happen. But to be honest, a.) I don’t know if it bothers him, and b.) I’m pretty sure he can’t help it when he topples over. After all, he was barking, so he was unhappy with his position. Look, I do try to be out there with him as a rule, but sometimes (especially so soon after having just been out) I think he’d just as soon stay outside for no other reason than staying outside, and I’m generally not feeling that, despite the fact that, admittedly, it was night weather yesterday.

Anyway, the point is that, when he does that sort of business, he generally comes crashing down upon it, and I have to be on top of him at all times to avert that from happening.

On the other hand, a few hours later, after having been fed (a little late, I must admit, but he was sleeping too), I brought him out, and after moving him several times in order to keep his feet out of the puddles he kept creating (yeah, that’s another thing – not only is there the risk of falling into them, but they just grow underneath him), then he suddenly starts trying to wander off, falling with every other step, and needing me to prop him up as he does so. After a moment of reacting with an aghast ‘what on earth are you trying to do, old man?’ before realizing what he’s leaving behind him, I try to keep up with him, keeping him upright as I do so. Bear in mind, I’m bent over him as I’m shuffling behind him. I can’t even go for one of those little bags you used to pick his mess up with, lest he keel over onto his creations.

But once he’s done his usual number, and I try to straighten myself up, there is this absolutely shooting pain through my lower back. I can’t even bring myself to bring myself completely upright for a while, it hurts so badly. I don’t know if this ever happened to you, but for once, I was starting to wonder if this old dog wasn’t going to outlast me at this rate.

After all, they shoot horses, don’t they?

If this was going to my lot, I wondered if I wasn’t going to need to be put down. Yeah, that’s what it felt like.

Meanwhile, he’d stumbled off into the grass in the front yard (yes, when I take him out front, I keep him on the pavement so I know that and where he’s gone – both to confirm he’s done, and to keep him out of wherever that may be), and just lay there looking at me, wondering why I wasn’t doing anything about the fact that he’d just crashed down in front of me.

Are you kidding, old man? I can’t even get myself up – I’m in no position to keep you upright at the moment.

I mean, the fact that I’m here writing this to you would suggest that the situation resolved itself, and at any rate, he’s gotten everything out of his system that he needed to. But once again, I have to apologize for all the times I expressed amazement at the fact that all the good of the rubdown I’d given you less than an hour before had completely evaporated, and you needed another.

Honestly, I’d really like to give you as much and as many as you wanted right now, no matter how sore it might leave my fingers. It couldn’t be worse than my back felt back then, that’s for sure. I guess my days of doing the Twist are pretty much over with, even if I do find another partner some day.

Good night, darling. I’ll see you one of these days, and maybe then…

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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