Dearest Rachel –
As frustrating as dealing with Chompers can be, one of the most difficult has been the fact that he never seems to be satisfied with what he has or where he is. As a result, there are times when all the boxes are ticked – he’s been fed (although that only happens at specific times of day, which I think he’s well aware of. Even when you were around, we would be amazed at how soon after 6 p.m. he knew when to start whining at us for his dinner), he’s had some water, he’s been out, peed and pooped – and yet, he still whines like some need or other hasn’t been met.
Now, to be fair, the girls tell me that he’s just not getting the regular loving that you used to bestow on him. But the times I try – however reluctantly, I must admit, as he almost always smells fairly badly of whatever he last fell in or walked through, all of which I’m not entirely sure is due to the accident of him no longer being able to control his back legs – he is very rarely willing to sit by my side, or (even less so) stay in my lap for long before all but throwing himself off the sofa or chair we’re sitting in. So, yeah… either that’s not what he wants, or he sure as heck doesn’t want it from me.
Of course, I’m more than willing to concede that I’m doing something wrong here, but I’ve no idea how to go about doing it right. And if it’s all down to the fact that the problem is due to it being me rather than you, well… then, there’s nothing for it, and he’s always going to be upset. Dreadful thought.
At the same time, I have discovered something about his as he’s aging before my eyes: when I take him out, he simply cannot take care of business all at once.
Part of this is because he can’t stay upright long enough to get everything out of his system, and I have to either keep him from falling or walking through the puddle he’s just made and getting his paw(s) all damp and smelly – although again, I’m not sure he actually has a problem with either situation. But part of it is because I don’t think he’s capable of getting rid of everything at a given time. After making some three puddles (like the ones pictured above), he would just stand there – or turn his front half ninety degrees and fall down – with a look on his face that suggested he was wondering what he was still doing outside.
And yet, once I’d decided it was pointless for the two of us to just be standing outside, waiting for something more to happen, and brought him in, I could almost guarantee that within 15-20 minutes, he’d be whining to go back outside all over again. Oh, I could calm his whining by producing his water bowl – there’s nothing he likes better after getting rid of water – but really, what he usually needed was the opportunity to finish what he’d started with his last trip outside. Because for all his attempts, he couldn’t – and perhaps can’t – get rid of everything all at once anymore.
I can’t relate to this – at least, not in this specific realm. Better to get it all done and feel better, I would think. On the other hand, it could be argued that I’m taking my own sweet time cleaning out this house, and that there are a lot of things I’m not ready to let go of. I’m not sure if that is analogous to Chompers’ situation, though, given the size and scope of the cleanup process, and that, while the process does hurt considerably, I’m not liable to wind up with a burst bladder – or damage any of my other organs – from holding onto any of your stuff as a memento.
Shortly after your departure, Ellen identified Chompers’ inability to keep his back legs from crossing as a neurological condition – a guess that the vet confirmed at our next visit, and which basically meant his condition was incurable – and recommended I look into getting some sort of conveyance – a wheelchair for a dog, if you will – for him to use on future ‘walks’ and whatnot. I confess that I rather balked at the price (most options ran in the hundreds of dollars), particularly since we had both believed that he wasn’t that much longer for this world.
Indeed, in our work cleaning your side of the bedroom, Jan and I have found a number of copies of your dad’s letter from their 2011 Christmas card, talking in some detail of Sir Silk’s last days, and how you drove down to Macomb to be with him as your parents had him put down. One of the things he mentioned was about how the tipping point came when Sir Silk’s legs collapsed. By that marker, I should have had Chompers put down probably no more than a month after you left us (and, in all honesty, several people have told me that I should have at various points throughout these last few months). But Ellen pointed out to me that Sir Silk was in considerable pain in his last days, and while our old boy can barely stay on his feet for more than a few steps, he doesn’t truly seem to be suffering anything more than discomfort when he’s sitting wrong on his misfolded limbs. That, and I suppose the frustration of not being able to go where he wants to when he wants to.
Had I known then what I do now – especially the fact that, his legs aside, he seems to still be as hale and hearty as ever – I should have snapped up a model right then and there. At it is, I’ve waited until now, wasting a full four month of his and my time. But at least, I have ordered a relatively inexpensive model – and hopefully, one that’s easy to put together, seeing as it comes unassembled. And I’ll be honest, at this point, the thing can’t get here soon enough. Hopefully, I’ll have pictures for you in short order.
I also hope it will make these trips outside, which are getting more and more frequent as time goes on, a lot less burdensome. Why, maybe he’ll be able to stay outside on his own if he wants, without someone having to hover over him all the time in case he falls into whatever he does.
Now, if only I could keep him from walking through those puddles….