Dearest Rachel –
I have a feeling that the old boy is starting to lose it.
Just this past Monday, I brought him inside from his morning constitutional, set him down on his blanket, got him his water, and set to preparing his food. When I finished with it, I placed it down on the carpet just outside the kitchen, and attempted to nudge him around so that he could go eat. He kept turning away, but I chalk that up to his usual anti-clockwise predilections.
I got him to where he could reach the food – although admittedly he was pointed about 60° off – and went back to the bedroom to continue with my own preparations for the morning. Shortly thereafter, I heard him barking, and ran out there to figure out what he needed. He was still pointed away from the food, which, if he turned his head, he would be able to see, assuming his eyes worked (or his nose, come to think of it).
Granted, I once again nudged him in the direction of the bowl, and he proceeded to dig in heartily, as always. But I have a feeling that it’s getting closer to that time.
This morning, while doing a little work starting another, very different letter to you, I heard the usual loud breathing noise that begins his whimper on the other side of the bed. As it was getting on towards 7 o’clock and breakfast, I simply picked him up, got him outside, and put him in his harness (I’ve mentioned before how harnessing him into his wheelchair is the last step in getting him outside, right? That Pavlovian response, you know. Sometimes, in fact, I wind up holding him while he lets loose, doing my best to make sure he doesn’t just pee on his legs). And while he did make a couple of fairly typical puddles, by the time I came back outside with his breakfast, he was leaning so hard to his left that it was a wonder he hadn’t fallen over. His back legs, which normally even at the full height of the wheelchair can reach the ground (indeed, if I have the wheel adjusted any lower than full height, his back feet tend to drag on the ground like a caveman‘s knuckles, and that scraping over pavement can’t be good for him), were just dangling in midair. He was doing all he could to just lay down on his side, despite the impairment of his wheelchair. I have to tell you, it made eating very difficult for him. And once again I found myself wondering if it isn’t starting to become time, considering that he is literally going sideways.
At the same time, he’s also considerably less trouble; he doesn’t bark, he doesn’t move around (thereby not knocking over his water dish)… essentially, he behaves so much better in this condition than if he was more active.
But inevitably, he does start barking. He’s not happy where he is, and so I find myself dashing out of the bedroom to find out what it is he wants or needs. Normally, he’s at least trying to get up and reach for… his water dish? a more comfortable position? But no, he’s simply lying there on his side, barking to indicate he doesn’t like it.
I nudge him partway to his feet like I do. At least, by flipping him from his left side to his right, he doesn’t automatically turn over like I was flipping a pancake made out of dog. He’s actually in something approximating a sitting position, whereupon I push his water bowl in front of him, and he begins to drink. I guess that’s what he wanted. Why he couldn’t even lift his head before is beyond me… unless he really is starting to go downhill fast.
After a few laps, he settles down to a passant position, and almost no time flat, he’s back on his left side. He’s gone sideways again. But, once again, he’s quiet; I may be mistaken, but I take that as contentment.
I’ve told you time and again, both before and since you’ve left, that I am no animal person. I don’t understand their wants or needs. So I may be completely and utterly wrong regarding his apparent contentment.
But unless somebody tells me otherwise (and sure, that somebody could be Chompers himself, with his whining and barking), I’m going to assume that he’s satisfied with where he is.
Even if things really have gone sideways.