Now come the harder stories. I know, they haven't exactly been filled with laughs up until now. But as the summer wore on, toby grew sicker. he fell. he wouldn't eat. we hey-ho Mr. Anderson-ed him and poured gravy on his food and helped him up the stairs at night. his back legs were so shaky that just about anything could make him fall--a sudden noise, a too-quick turn, a too-long walk.
i brought him in to see dr. j. it was september. toby had made it through the summer, and a good summer it was for him, filled with visits from friends and indulgences from us and a few precious borrowed months after his time in the oxygen cage.
but now the days were getting shorter. the angle of the sun was steeper, the leaves were turning. we had lived all summer with the side door propped open so that toby could go outside any time he wanted; he was on Lasix, which made him pee frequently. we could not keep the side door open all winter, too. we could not have him peeing in the house. i worried, i worried.
dr. j was not in a good mood. he had a cold, and he was tired. he loved toby, and it made him sad to see him so ill. dr. j had an aging golden retriever named jake who looked a lot like toby, and that made things even harder. he was brusque with me, but i could tell he had to be brusque to keep his composure.
"it's not going to be much longer," he said. "it could be as soon as a week."
i was stunned. i knew toby was sick. i knew there was no cure. but ... a week? i still found life without toby to be unfathomable.
i boosted toby into my car and we drove to the Creamy Cone on rice street. i bought him a small dish of vanilla ice cream. normally, this pleased him no end, and he chased the little paper dish around the back of the car. but today he only licked it sadly and didn't finish. i put my arms around his dear old neck and sobbed into the top of his head.
and then sara came for a visit.
and for a little while, everything changed.
sara is one of lo's three dogs. she is boscoe's age, and she was everything toby no longer was--boisterous. healthy. strong. she had a high piercing bark when she wanted attention, and she wriggled with joy when we scratched her. she livened things up considerably. and toby loved it.
with sara around, the whole mood of the house changed. no longer a hospice, it was a daycare center. she was with us for ten days while lo and her husband were out of town, and for those ten days toby was happy. she zoomed around the back yard with boscoe, and toby watched from the porch and wagged his tail.
at meal time, they all ate together in the kitchen, an odd combination of meals--sara with her raw turkey necks, toby and his cocktail weinies, poor boscoe drawing the short straw and getting nothing more appealing than dry kibble.
sara needed more exercise than toby could handle, so doug took boscoe and sara for walks and i walked toby slowly around the block alone. but one saturday after doug left with the robust two, toby grew agitated. he whimpered. he moaned. "toby, what's wrong?" i asked. "do you need to go out?" he stared at me mournfully. "do you want to for for a walk?" he barked and wagged his tail. he wanted to be with the others.
so i snapped on his leash and we headed across the street to the park, where boscoe and sara were racing around. toby gave a little skip and dropped a tennis ball in front of doug. he tossed it gently, and toby toddled after it. oh my gosh, Old Mr. Puffy Pants wanted to play!
so as sara and boscoe tore up the turf with their chasing games, i lobbed tennis balls for toby. once he slipped in the slick wet grass and fell, and after that he looked a little more cautious, a little more tentative. but he loved being out in the park with the others, and we loved that he was there.
.... TO BE CONTINUED ...
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