This weekend, I watched him on more than one occasion slowly climb off the sofa only to stand in the middle of the room, usually and annoyingly blocking the remote control’s beam to the TV, and he stared into space, trying to get his bearings, but ultimately returning to his spot on the couch. His trajectory is a study of pained labor; his front paws bracing for the brunt of his eighty pounds, and then a pause and a look over to me. The moment I reach for his back legs, however, his pride takes over, and his hind legs find themselves slowly reaching the zenith of the cushions. He harrumphs into position and starts licking the denim of the couch, a compulsive behavior or a fetish – it really doesn’t matter.
On Saturday, the weather was a balmy fifty degrees and we went for a walk in Rock Creek Park with Joe. “This isn’t far at all from where they found Chandra Levy,” Joe said, and both Bob and I shuddered. Joe led us up a steep muddy path, a horse trail with evidence along the way, and normally Bob would have been in front of the pack, leading us with his tail pointing to the sky and his watchful eye holding danger at bay. I wistfully noted this to Joe, who understood, as he is an overflowing reservoir of compassion and knowledge.
We reached the peak of the hill and stood still for a moment, all three of us catching our breath. On the way down, Bob proceeded with caution, his body close to the ground and his feet fighting for purchase in the soft mud. Bob sniffed out a potential pee spot and tried to balance on the trio of his legs with one in the air but he lost some of his support and wobbled. I saw this happen, as I’ve seen it happen over the past several months, and a little piece of me fluttered away.
I watch helplessly as the accelerated march of time takes our Bob down an inevitable path, one not littered with horse manure, but one that will surely lead him back to his Daddy. I also watch and pray that time can slow down just enough for Bob to make it to his backyard again where I am certain cookies are waiting to be found.