The Spill

Dearest Rachel –

I have been told that the way that I will know the time is come for Chompers is when he no longer bothers to eat; for the longest time, that has been his sole remaining pleasure in life, so for him to give up on that would be quite significant. And up until recently, I hadn’t noticed any such drop off in his appetite, which would indicate that his time may well have come.

And I’m not entirely sure that even now, he has given up on his one great love – that of food. It’s just that he simply can’t eat without a great deal of assistance.

This past afternoon, I very nearly lost track of time; one minute it was about two o’clock, and the next, it seemed to be just about five. Any other time this week, that shouldn’t be a problem; but today, we had to meet at Des Plaines for Sparks (and for Grief Share). So we had to get the old boy fed a little early, before we headed out, because he would not appreciate it if we were to wait until we got home at nine o’clock to feed him. Or so I thought.

The problem with this plan was that he was lying in the middle of the family room throughout the whole length of time that had escaped from me, seemingly asleep (although Daniel pointed out that his eyes seemed to be open most of that time regardless; I’ve noticed that they’re pretty cloudy at this point – it may be that he’s so blind that it hardly matters if his eyes are open or closed anymore). Well, we all know that line about sleeping dogs, but we suddenly had a schedule to meet, and we couldn’t stay much longer. I put together his dinner in his bowl while Daniel and Kevin made to ready themselves to go.

Kevin mentioned that we had let the old boy lick out our lunch bowls (and the saucepan) of jambalaya, so it really shouldn’t be of that much consequence were he to wait until we returned, after all. I agreed that this conclusion seemed quite reasonable, especially given Chompers’ lassitude. I set the ball down – since I already prepared it – but decided not to move Chompers to where he could access it. I concluded that, were he desperate enough for it, theoretically he could drag himself over there and help himself.

However, it was at that point that Daniel noticed the old boy stirring. Oh, dear.

We were going to have to deal with him before we left, like it or not.

First things first; after any length of sleep, he needed to be put outside, to get rid of anything he could from his bladder (especially since he wouldn’t get a chance until we returned home, and that would definitely be too long). And while this seemed to take longer than it should have, it probably wasn’t any longer than any more than normal – indeed, it could’ve been considerably less, it just felt longer because we were under a time crunch. He didn’t do much, but it was enough, and after falling down in his harness a couple of times, I resolved to pick him up and bring him inside despite the fact that he wasn’t whining to return just yet.

And since I had laid out his bowl, I set him down on his haunches in front of it, so that he could eat as we left, and presumably keep eating until he was finished, all of which should have kept them both occupied and happy while we headed out.

As I understand it, Sparks went fairly normally, and at some point I suppose I should fill you in on how things went at Grief Share, but this letter isn’t about those. We continue to make a habit of waiting for Erin (I’m not entirely sure why – it seems disrespectful to do otherwise), and as a result, it was very close to nine by the time we left church. Not so close that we couldn’t pick up food from where we wanted to, but it did sort of feel like those days when it was the three of us worrying about where we might go on our way home that was still open.

At least the place we planned on stopping at was still open, and still had everything that we wanted to order (I recall at least one time stopping there on our way home, only for the voice to squawk back from the drive-in menu board that “we only have a chicken now – come on around,” at which point we decided we didn’t want the stuff on the bone, and left for elsewhere). So we took care of that, and got home a little after nine…

…to find Chompers sprawled approximately where I have left him, with the container of food upside down on the pantry linoleum. The kibble in the vegetables were spread across both the carpet and the linoleum, and he hadn’t made any effort to go after any of it.

I’ve since swept up the kibble (aside from, now that I’m looking at this picture, a single piece in the lower right corner), and put back what vegetables I could salvage.

I know the photo doesn’t look too terrible, but trust me when I say it was quite the mess to come home to. And to think that Chompers had more than three hours to scramble around, Pac-Man style, and collect each morsel of food were he hungry enough.

And as ridiculous as that image might be, you know full well that he would’ve done just that less than a year ago. He’s not that dog anymore.

Anyway, the spill itself is no big deal; we’ve gotten very cavalier about what happens to this carpet, as we plan to replace it just as we intend to have the kitchen renovated. What Chompers does to the house will be replaced fairly soon after he leaves, so he can pretty much do as he pleases at this point.

What concerns me is that he was lying in the midst of this mess, and not doing anything to attempt to reach any of it. And even the old boy from a month ago would not have been deterred by the fact that he just had jambalaya leavings a couple hours previously.

That slow decline that he has been on is starting to steepen, I think.

Again, we’ll get a professional opinion on Saturday, but I think we all know what that opinion will be at this point.

We’re all wondering if he hasn’t lost his sight, his hearing, and possibly even his sense of smell to some extent. And with all those sense is gone, it’s possible he thinks of them self as quite alone in the world. Honestly, I would wish that you could come by, pick him up, and take him back with you before his appointment – if only to make it easier for him.

Especially since, were you to pick him up, I’m sure he would unstiffen from this pose that makes him look like the Jack of Dogs from a pack of playing cards

You know how happy he would be to see you again.

Almost as happy as I would be to see you; but I’m not the one who’s ready to leave this earth just yet.

Until that day comes, my love goes with you.

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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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