Not that the old normal was normal. But it was familiar.
And now all those rugs have been rolled up and tossed into the basement until we can figure out what to do with them. The hardwood gleams, revealed again. The red hallway rug where Riley shat the night Boscoe died has been scrubbed and placed on the back porch for the Coit man to come and get. Boscoe's dog dish and its stand are put away; those cans of dogfood and his leftover antibiotics and Metacam have been donated to a shelter. I leave the insulin in the refrigerator for a few more days, his needles in the drawer, just because. But I know I will throw it all out soon.
I get up in the morning and wonder what to do with my time--Doug is out walking Riley, but there is no Boscoe for me to carry outside, no dog beds to move, no baby gates to take down. I stand in the middle of the clean, quiet kitchen and think, "Do I just make coffee? Is that all?"
Last night Doug and I were sitting in the living room and we heard a scrambling noise in the kitchen; it sounded like Boscoe struggling to get up, feet sliding out from under him on the hardwood. We looked at each other, and Doug went into the kitchen to see what it was. We decided it was the tea-maker, making a particularly strange gurgle. We agreed that if Boscoe were to haunt us, it would not be old Boscoe, but young healthy Boscoe.
We agreed that we would not mind if Boscoe were to haunt us.
But it is Riley who is quiet and ghost-like, hiding under tables, staring out at us, tail tucked, back hunched. I wish I knew what he was thinking, what his impressions are of what just happened here. The day Boscoe died, he was upstairs in the bedroom, vomiting like mad. I let him out and he came downstairs quite slowly and sniffed around the living room but he did not approach Boscoe's body, did not sniff it, and I don't know if he understood. Boscoe was in his bed in the same position he always lay in, head on a pillow, and he looked as though he was sleeping. I just don't know what Riley knows.
He is tense, wary, watching. He doesn't lie down and sleep, but curls in his bed and keeps his head up, alert and listening. Is he listening for Boscoe? Am I projecting?
Dr. Heather suggested we get him a DAP collar, which releases soothing pheromones, so I went out today and bought him one. It smells flowery and soapy and when Doug came home from work he said our house smells like a brothel. The pheromones are supposed to last a month, and I figure in a month's time Riley will be adjusted to the new normal.
He has never been an only dog; we got him, as you might recall, as a puppy for Boscoe, after Toby died. He was always Boscoe's dog. Now he has to be his own dog.
It'll be interesting to see how he flowers.
I look at pictures of Boscoe from last summer and fall, and I realize just how swift his decline was. I look at videos of him on YouTube (yes, there are a few), and they make me feel better, because they are videos of him in his prime, not him as an old sick dog, and it helps me remember how gorgeous he was, and how full of life, for 16 of his 16 1/2 years.
And I look at Riley, huddled under the table, and I think, Time for this dog to have a little space and attention. He's been living under Boscoe's shadow for a while now. Let's see where he brings us.
But first, a video that makes me both teary and happy. Boscoe and Riley at the dog park, four years ago. Enjoy:
and one more: