The Only Thing That’s Never Empty

Dearest Rachel –

While I’d be more than willing to admit there are so many things I’d like to have back, I would settle for being able to hear your voice, and converse with you back-and-forth. I’ve mentioned not so long ago about how I wish I could compare notes about how you dealt with the loss of your father and mother. And there are a few other things I’d like to check in with you about as well.

One of the other issues I’ve had is when to give up on the dog. If I read your dad’s story correctly, I’ve probably held out far longer on Chompers than they did – or could, given their condition and abilities – on Sir Silk; I might’ve kept him going for as much as six or nine months, had I been in the circumstances that I am now. Granted, if I had been, none of you would be there to appreciate it, just like you’re probably up there by the Rainbow Bridge from time to time, wondering what’s taking the old boy so long.

And that’s a question I wonder about, too. Just this evening, I took him outside about after attempting to give him his pill (he ate the treat, but set the pill aside; looks like I’m going to need to get a different bag of treats, ones that I can easily dig a hole into to set the pill in). He made about six different puddles – partly because I kept moving him so that he wouldn’t be slumping belly-first in what he made – before whining about wanting to come back inside (or at least that’s how I interpreted it). I gave him the rest of his bedtime treats – I did try to give him another one of his pain pills (the Carprovet that I’ve been ignoring for a couple of months, due to the effects it has on his liver), but he wasn’t having any of that – and hoped he would settle down. Barely ten minutes passed before he began to whine again, which I’ve now started to learn is him complaining about needing to pee yet again. Sure enough, I can’t even get him back into his harness outside before he pees again. He made another couple puddles before starting to whine yet again about being sick and tired of being outside. So I bring him back in and put him back into the bedroom. Done for the night, right? Nope, another ten minutes, and he’s fussing again. Fine. Another trip outside, where he makes another three puddles before really stepping up his whine game, and I carry him back inside.

At this point, I really wish I could compare notes with you; was he ever like this when you were still around? I’m pretty sure at one point back in February I had to deal with him some fourteen times in one night, but that was because I would take him back in after he’d fallen a certain number of times (plus, I didn’t want to be out in the snow any longer than absolutely necessary – here, while it’s getting a bit chilly, things aren’t all that uncomfortable outside… yet).

This time, I’m really not wanting to deal with another request to be taken out, especially since it seems like it’s about to start raining overnight, just like last night. So when he starts fussing again after another ten minutes, I decided to take Daniel’s advice. He has occasionally advocated at the old boy ‘just needs some loving.’ Of course, I don’t know what that entails; all I can do is sit down beside him, and try to pet him. I don’t suppose it comes as any surprise to you that he flinches when I attempt it; he knows I’m upset and frustrated, and doesn’t know what I’m going to do, or trying to do.

I seriously don’t understand what you dog lovers see in these animals. Maybe it’s just that I’m dealing with an old and misanthropic specimen, but all I get out of this is the unbearable smell of wet dog and pee. There is no love, no loyalty, no glimpse of happiness or contentment in his eyes. Only the obligation to keep him alive and as healthy as I can for your sake.

Eventually, though, it seems like he figures out what I’m trying to do, and calms down, at which point I head back to my rocking chair on the other side of the bedroom, and attempt to wait him out.

It doesn’t take. It’s more than ten minutes this time, but probably less than a half an hour before he’s fussing yet again. I storm angrily across the room, sweeping him up and hauling him outside. And to his credit, he’s raring to go as soon as he’s out, letting fly before he’s in his harness yet again. And once he’s in his harness, he’s dragging himself around, trying to find a spot on the now wet pavement to drop a bit more than just water.

Oh. That explains a lot.

After expelling what he needs to, he goes back to whining about wanting to come inside. Fine. At least I know now that he’s done.

Only… he’s not. Fifteen minutes later, he starts up again. And by now, I’m positively livid. Everything about this house is empty these days without you. Why, Daniel won’t so much as venture into the kitchen, as it’s so empty there that it practically echoes.

But the one thing that’s never empty? Chompers’ bladder. Especially at night.

Tell me, honey, was he like this in days (and nights) past? I would have really respected your sleeping in each morning so much more, had I known that this was what he was like. But you were never one to complain about it, probably because you didn’t see in it anything to complain about.

Upon bringing him in this fifth time, it’s not even ten minutes before he starts whining yet again. I can’t take this much longer. But here’s the weird part – at this point, I haven’t given him any water after any of the times that we have come in, for what you probably think were obvious reasons. This time, I give up and give him his water, which he drinks after I nudge him back onto his haunches (he’s not able to drink when he’s lying on his side, and he’s not able to get off of his side on his own anymore). After having that drink, he slumps back onto his side, and goes quiet.

So I guess some of this could’ve been avoided had I given him a drink sooner. On the other hand, at least he’s pooped, so there’s that.

You know, by the time I figure him out, it’ll be time to say goodbye to him.

And had you been here, and for whatever reason been unable to help me out with any of this, I could picture you draping your arms around me while I washed my hands for the umpteenth time after bringing him in yet again, and cooing something along the lines of “poor baby” – whether truly sympathetic or just teasing, I’d consider to be irrelevant – while giving me a kiss or the cheek (with maybe a hint toward something more later on) in thanks for my putting up with this.

That would be more than reward enough. Pity you can’t do that.

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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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