“No, he hears just fine,” I said as I tugged on his leash toward the elevators. Then, out of earshot, I muttered, “And he finds grotesque cunts like you repulsive.” It’s not the first time Bob and I have been faced with coarse questions about his health or age. It happens constantly.
“Oh, look at how white his beard is! How old is he?” That is a common query and one as irritating as it would be to Blanche Du Bois. I answer honestly. “Thirteen,” and then we get the look. It reads, Oh you poor thing. You’re on your last legs. Not much time left for you, is there? Tick tock. Bob doesn’t notice it as much as I do and when the look comes, I want to scoop him up in my arms and whisk him away from their awful thoughts and tell him he’s still my puppy and always will be.
The worst came on Friday when I was in Jodi’s office at day’s end and we were just sitting around with Gretchen, a beautiful young blond who is in our department, and Jodi asked it. I told her and she said, “Oh, labs don’t go much beyond thirteen.” Now if it were just Jodi The Friend, I would have said, “How fucking dare you say that to me when you know all that’s happened.” But it was Jodi My Boss, so I kept silent.
Bob is fine. He is spry and feisty although his hearing is diminished and he becomes more flustered and less confident than he did in Venice. His momentary confusions I chalk up to the massive move he just made and his constantly trying to find his bearings. The former, however, is just the truth of age.
On Thursday night, I was truly worried. I came home, fed Bob and started to watch Survivor. Bob was unusually restless. Normally he would be on the couch with me, post-meal, and watching his favorite show too. But he was roaming around and looking at the door. It was an hour before his bedtime walk and I told him, "Dammit, Bob, it’s tribal council! Not now!" But his malaise became louder. I paused the show and grabbed his leash that sent him into a frenzy of circles and yelps.
In the hallway, his stomach looked bloated and he kept looking up at me with pleading eyes. Once we got into the elevator, the flat of his head rested against the brushed aluminum of the double doors. When it opened, he bolted through the lobby and out the door we went. Immediately his bowels let loose a torrent of viscous yellow liquid in front of the elegant potted plants that flank the building’s entry. He had never had that kind of diarrhea, ever, and I was worried.
We went upstairs where I tried to comfort him and he drank from his water bowl like a camel at an oasis. I gently petted him on the couch and I worried. I wrote a note to Reginald, the dog walker, telling him of what had just happened. I implored Reginald to call me the next day at the office and let me know if it was continuing.
I got a voicemail the next day from him saying, “I am so sorry about Bob. I gave him a rib bone, a smoker. My other clients really like them. I’ll never do that again with Bob.” Indeed you won’t, Reg. I heaved a sigh of relief, knowing it was nothing more than a bad diet choice.
I left him a note this morning, explaining Bob never gets people food and if he wants to give Bob a treat, there are glucosamine cookies on the kitchen counter. I resisted berating him for a stupid and assumptive decision.
Bob is in good health. He’s an alert and happy thirteen. Both of us are tired of the sad sack looks we get when his age is revealed. But he is dignified about it and I willfully play in the land of denial.