“If you go slowly enough, six or seven months is an eternity—if you let it be—if you forget old things, and learn new ones. Even a week can last forever.”
Rick Bass, Winter

"In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."
Albert Camus

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Day 25: Dog Lady and Dog Limp-Run Through Year's Finish Line

December 31, 2011

8:15 AM: Wake up confused in empty house.  How did it get this late?  Feel as though suffering from premature champagne hangover without the champagne.  Am I sick?  How?  Why?  Take headache medicine and make coffee and limp to studio.  Where is everybody?  Oh yes, sons left yesterday for New Year's Eve festivities in the metropolis, and husband on gentlemen's dog walk with dog.  It's so late.  How did this happen?

9 to 10:30 AM: Meditate and then write Post 24.  Cheer up considerably.

10:30-11 AM: Answer notes from friends on Facebook who ask, Is this blog about your dog going to be a book?  Read friends' New Years' Resolutions and write them back--mood improving steadily.  Respond to two former beloved students about creative writing programs they are applying to.  Like life.

11:04 AM: Realize it is 11:04 AM and hair appointment was for 11.  Rush downstairs and get in car, remembering to open garage door before driving, and to drive mindfully.  Going in such haste means being seen out of the woods in dog-walking woodsy outfit of baggy brown velveteenish sweat pants purchased for five dollars and slouchy sweater that I put on when I woke up as a stopgap measure against nightgown and snow en route to studio above garage.

Noon: Return to car nicely coiffed and realize I haven't eaten yet.  Buy delicious kale soup at Nature's Storehouse and go home to have it with whole grain English muffin.  Still feeling a little sick, though.

1:00PM: Take Zoe out on midday backyard romp and realize she doesn't want to move.  Husband, who is watching from window, comes out and says, "She's limping."  It's very hard to tell when a dog with a limp has a limp.  "It's her front left paw.  She's favoring it."

Zoe lies down in the snow and presents the leg to me.  She lets me massage it gently, then rolls on her back looking adorable and submissive and melancholic.   I sit in the snow with her for many minutes.  Try not to think too much.  Don't jump to conclusions.

Imagine all the green grass as snow
1:30 PM: Husband creates makeshift sling for dog with pink towel and we walk her back up deck into house.  She never did pee.  She is clearly in pain and is now despondent.  We try not to listen to the soundtrack of interior movies of gloom and doom.  She lies on the Kilim rug beneath the Christmas tree we remembered to purchase on time for once and have had in our house for nearly 4 weeks, a marvel that makes us feel borderline smug.  It is the tree's last hoorah.  We hope hope hope this was not Zoe's last hoorah on gentlemen's walk.  Did she strain the front paw at the end of the 90-minute amble while husband held her back from jumping on shy newcomer dog?  Did she pull tendon on ice when jumping out of car to go home?

Realize I still have headache and mild queasies, go upstairs to rest and read E.B. White essays from The New Yorker and One Man's Meat.  They are so good!  This is cheering.  It is almost 2012, an election year, and big things are brewing all over the world, and I am normally a political animal, but all I want to do is write about my dog, and love, and mortality, and meditation, and ancillary things like Sunday lunch and kale soup.  I am suffering from an irony deficiency.  I am unabashedly in love with love.  And all things small and domestic and local.  E.B. White is the man to read.  Underline these quotes:
"Even in evil times, a writer should cultivate only what naturally absorbs his fancy, whether it be freedom or cinch bugs, and should write in the way that comes easy."  ("Salt Water Farm")
E.B. White was a dog person too.  I like this quote that describes a dog's fixedness, or what I think of as a dog's obsessiveness:
"Love is not the only thing that can keep a dog's nerves in a state of perpetual jangle.  A dog, more than any other creature, it seems to me, gets interested in one subject, theme, or object, in life, and pursues it with a fixity of purpose that would be inspiring to Man if it weren't so troublesome."  ("A Boston Terrier").  
Reading the above makes me look back longingly to last weekend when Zoe pursued dead critter with exasperating fixity of purpose.  (See Blog 20: The Call of the Wild.)  What was a nuisance then would be a joy now, as it would be proof that Zoe was back on her game.

2 PM: Fall asleep and dream I am outside the house with Zoe rubbing her hurt paw.  In the dream another Zoe is running toward us from behind the house, and another Zoe is running away, toward the road.  I am not sure which of the three dogs is real.  Are they the past, the present, and the future Zoes?

3 PM: Wake up and decide that Zoe is probably fine and today's setback is temporary, because a) when there was cancer in her left rear leg, she still wanted to move around and go on walks, even though she was in great pain and b) she is a big baby when the thing bothering her is minor and she wants our love and care, but is stoic and brave when the thing bothering her is epic and beyond our control.

Realize nap took headache and nausea away.  Go downstairs for tea and spend a half hour lying next to dog on rug under the tree.  Agree with husband that she won't go out again today, except when nature calls.  Will end 2011 without a dog walk.  It is very strange and sad to consider this.

3:30 PM:  Go back upstairs and read more E.B. White.

5 PM: Listen to the most felicitous sound in the world.  Zoe running up the stairs to join me in bedroom.  She climbs into her crate and pants a little with doggy grin.  She has come to join me while I read.  She must be feeling a little better.  I am too.

Understand, anew, that I am co-dependent with dog.  When she feels bad, I wake up with inexplicable headaches.  Understand that I am the dog's stigmata.  Repeat: I am the dog's stigmata.  Will write about this soon.

6 PM: I am not sure what I want to wear to the lovely restaurant tonight where we are ringing in the new year.  I try on the camel-colored Katherine Hepburn pants to see if they still fit after six months of three-course Sunday lunches.  They are very slim in the waist.  Am thrilled to discover they still can be worn, but there's no room to spare.  Zoe watches me try them on from the crate.  Realize I am being insensitive--when I dress up in front of her, it is akin to bringing out the suitcase: it means I am going out without her, and she always whimpers.  But that doesn't happen this time.  Instead she comes out of the crate and does her happy dog dance of dog about to go on walk.

Dog clearly thinks Katherine Hepburn pants are slouchy, slobby, funky, winter-warm dog-walking pants meant for the woods, not chic pants for fancy dinner.  Two decisions made at once: 1) Zoe wants walk and will have one.  2) Katherine Hepburn pants will go back to closet.  (Husband will be happy; he has never liked said pants.)

Dog lady and dog are both officially on the mend.

6:30 PM: Decide Zoe only should go for a few minutes to, as they say in the dog business, "do her business," but when we cross the bridge to campus she seems eager.  I point in the direction of the house, but she points her snout further down Riverside Drive where we roam, until we get to the senior complex next to the liquor store.  Some small dogs live here and the snow is sprinkled generously with their graffiti.  Zoe is content and does not want to leave.  She leaves her deposit and of course I have forgotten the dog bags since I did not think I was walking today and am a very bad citizen setting bad example.  This is not model behavior for someone who went to France hoping she could reform the whole nation of its bad dog waste habits.  Will look for it tomorrow if we return and make amends.

7:30 PM: We are dressed up to go and Zoe leans against us on the couch posing and being cute, hoping to discourage us from New Year's festivities by her charming canine wiles.   We leave anyway.

8 to 10 PM: Our food is delicious--crab bisque, stuffed shrimp, yum--but it's cold.  The restaurant is having a hard time keeping up with the crowds.  Earlier a magician showed us his favorite card tricks to pass the time while we waited in the bar for a table, but the only trick we wanted was for him to make the people at our reserved table for six disappear.  I apply mindfulness meditation to just being with our friends and not missing Zoe.  I hope her paw is okay.

10 PM: Driving home in a thick fog, I sing "Homeward through the Haze" to myself quietly and try not to get all metaphorical about things.  I realize I am fine, even with all the unknowns, and I have kicked the bug that I began day with.

10:15 PM: Happy reunion with dog, whom we take outside for her bedtime pee.  Is she limping, or is that the old limp?  She seems much better.  She comes upstairs with us and we try to watch a too-twee British mystery but our eyes are very very heavy and the pillows are very very soft.

11:45 PM: Decide that the 15 minutes trying to stay awake to make it to 2012 are just not that compelling.  Drift off to sleep.

Tara Freeman took the pictures in this batch except for the last one of Zoe under the tree.
Happy new year, gentle readers!  May 2012 bring you happiness, peace, and more squeaky toys for your pets.

1 comment:

  1. Happy New Year, Natalia and Zoe (late, but I am only just getting to reading this post)!
    Good night, Katherine Hepburn pants....