Sunday, September 3, 2017

Skipper-dog's vertical leap is not what it was

I bought a little set of stairs to help our aging dog get up on his favorite chair, but he just stared at it like it was a cat. He likes cats, actually, but he is not about to climb up one. 

So his favorite route, floor to chair to windowsill to bark at the mail man, now looms like Everest. The couch is suddenly too high for him to jump onto, so I laid one of its back cushions on the floor to use as a step up. He snuggled onto it as a bed. 

The dogs of my youth—Flirty, Brownie, Snoopy, Tiffy (do you sense a certain naming convention?)—have glowing places in my memory. Woofer not so much. Woofer was small, shaggy, black and white, low to the ground. You never wondered what Woofer was thinking about because you knew he wasn’t. Post-Woofer, I was dogless for 20 years. I am not proud of it. 

Skipper, best anyone can tell, is a terrier/Chihuahua mix, roughly 12 years old. He arrived from the shelter with the pretentious French name, Bon Garçon. Which either means “good boy” or “excellent waiter,” depending on the high school you went to. 

He got his new name because he skips when he walks, his back legs doing such a jig that more than one well-meaning passerby has warned us he must have stepped on a thorn. No. It comes from inside, we’d say. He is a Skipper. 

Last week he must have jumped off his chair funny because one loud yelp and one x-ray later, he seems to have a compressed pair of vertebrae. Instead of the confident three-foot leap he has  made onto the bed for a decade, he now paces below, posing, readying, then reconsidering. Like Kobe at the end, he just doesn’t have the legs. Ten minutes into his daily walk, he has slowed to the pace of a bipartisan bill.

His tail wags as always, though. He does not know he is mortal. He thinks he will wake up every morning in his plush bed, now set on the floor for easy access, forever. He thinks one day, if he just sniffs the crack under the front door powerfully enough, the mail man will be sucked indoors for gleeful devouring. And whoever they hire to replace him. Forever. 


It is not true. But for now, at least, to borrow from “Omar Khayyam,” Skipper skips, and having skipped, skips on. 

. . .



The excellent waiter in more sprightly days



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