And now we are back to this.
Last week, we had a nice run of melty days. Much of that huge snowpack that you will remember from my pre-Christmas posts dwindled and ran down the street and into the gutters and disappeared. (Though it didn't really disappear; the ground is still frozen, and so it ran into lakes and streams and rivers, and we will have flooding problems, come spring.)
One morning it was 45 degrees and misty and foggy, and I walked Boscoe down by the lake and our noses were both twitching at all the wonderful muddy boggy smells. But what melts in February is sure also to freeze, and the next morning we hit a thick patch of slick gray ice, and poor Boscoe went down, splayed out, spread eagled on the ground, whimpering, and could not get up. I had to haul up first his front legs, which are stronger and can bear his weight, and then go round and sort of hoist up his back end, and while he trotted along OK after that, later in the day he was clearly hurting. Pulled a muscle, I suspect, and that gimpy left rear leg of his is now almost useless.
So I upped his pain meds just a bit, and have been limiting his walks, and I am completely frustrated because he was getting better in all other regards--eating well, sleeping through the night--and now he is having trouble standing up, and oh, you old dog, can you just please get it all together at one time again? Even just for a while?
Doug is home now from four days gone, and I think we will all move upstairs tonight. Boscoe, as I said, has slept soundly the last two nights, and now if he needs to go outside at 1:40 a.m. (and pray God he does not), Doug can carry him down the stairs. I cannot manage that, myself.
(And oh, was he hopeful, watching Doug pack his duffle bag and haul his boots and gear from the basement. Clearly, he thought we were all going Up North, and how disappointed he was when Doug shut the door and left Boscoe behind.)
All of this makes me wonder if I have done you wrong by showing you, for the last four years, Boscoe through my eyes--his stubbornness, his sweetness, his caustic comments, his friendship with Riley, his need to be petted by strangers, his skill at finding tortillas and glazed doughnuts in snowbanks, his ailments, his repeated miraculous recoveries, his slow, steady aging. Surely if you see him as I do you must love him a bit. And surely watching him decline cannot be easy, especially if you have ever (as I know some of you have) watched a different beloved dog grow old.
And yet there is something wonderful in all of this, too, watching the interaction between the two dogs, watching Boscoe learn so late in life to compensate, and make do. Figuring out how to get along on three legs, using that weak fourth mainly as a crutch but not a full-fledged member of the team. How to haul himself backwards up the stairs, back when he was still going upstairs. How to rub his face along the side of the couch to scratch it, now that he can no longer get his back foot up there. How to back up and get a little running start to get up the porch stairs. How to so carefully lie down, front legs first, back legs naturally following, so as to keep control.
It is a wonderful thing to see, even as it is tinged with sadness, his ability to continue to learn and to figure things out and to get along just fine, really.
He has finished the two-week course of antibiotic pills, those small yellow ones, and has one week to go with the giant green ones. His appetite has returned, though it is different than it used to be, and this morning, in the snow, he went into the play bow and tried to head off Riley, who was sprinting at top speed through the deep white drifts.
If I have made you care about him, that is a good thing, but eventually we all know it will be a painful thing, too. But not now. Not just now.