An aging dog

I should have known. She’s absolutely impossible.

Not that she wasn’t already, but getting an article about her — HER — in the papers has gone to Gloria’s head. She sashays around, twitching that sleek fanny of hers, and expects us to make room for her.

Don’t count on it, I tell her. She’s shedding terribly, a new nuisance and a major one, for who wants black hair everywhere? (Gloria hair is not at all like golden retriever hair which can be picked up in bunches. She deposits hers, single hair by hair . . . everywhere.)

And she bites as alarmingly as ever. I never see them coming, flummoxed by her purrs and what I presume is loving attention. Somehow even the papyrus survives. All right, I do get a kick out of hearing her munching on it in the morning. It reminds me of a fairy’s cough.

It’s Minor who gets my sympathy. Oh, sure, he made the papers fairly recently too, but that was old behavior and farcical complaining. Where does he hide these things? (The 30-inch rawhide candy cane made it back up to the house from bushes nearer the road not long ago. I saw him retrieve it and carry it up — but that’s it. Gone again for now.)

He deserves more than that.

Minor’s had a hard winter — and not just because of the cat. Actually, he tends to try to ignore her (which raises her efforts not to be ignored). Truth is, Minor’s become an old dog. Ten and a half. Not old for all goldens, but definitely for one plagued with so many problems.

He continues his laser treatments on a regular basis. (We’ve been lucky for the most part with the winter roads this year.) I’m aware of the increasing weakness in his back left side when I watch him precede me back up the driveway with the papers. Only once in all the years we’ve been together have I seen him renege on his duty.

Minor lost a toe early in February. It started as a bulge, grew alarmingly and then bled copiously with every step he took. The amputation was a remarkably easy operation — at least for me (not sure about the doc) and, after the first day or two, for Minor as well. He licks it which delays healing but that’s also connected to his skin problems. Everything just takes a lot longer to heal than anticipated.

No bandage for this. No bleeding — a miracle it seemed — and he was back to walking normally almost at once. Just that first day when he only wanted to go partway down the drive. I definitely didn’t encourage him to do any more than he wanted. I don’t think I ever have.

These days I honestly view us more as a team. He certainly supports me — as I try to do for him. He’s always one step ahead of me — bathroom early, before bed, and under the desk in the den when I write and under the grand when I go to practice. He doesn’t linger there particularly long. He might go outside then — or just stretch out to nap a room or two away. Heck! I’d do the same if I weren’t the one making the noise.

He reminds me of dinnertime (breakfast is the first thing in the morning, no reminder needed), when he needs clean water and, six times a day, when it’s eye drop time. That always involves a small treat so he’s eager and waiting. His eyes look better and his eye doctor says she can see the improvement. What more can I ask?

Is he losing some of his hearing? or just absent minded? or perhaps happier to ignore me when it suits him?

I call him my unicorn for a funny growth has appeared on his nose. Minor has warts and and scaly skin, all developing over the years. He knows no differently and I wouldn’t tell him (if I could). Perhaps he’s the lesson in patience I always needed.

He gets very excited when he can go in the car. His in and out, up and down, grows increasingly difficult but that doesn’t matter. Usually his adventures involve the vet or his groomer, frequently with a detour to the bank. He really knows when I turn the corner which way I’m going and is “bank-alert” from way over a mile away (unless I “sneak” in from a different direction). Just the post office? I invite. He considers and inevitably turns away. No thank ye. He’ll be waiting on the garage steps when I get home minutes later, the most tailwagging dog that could be.

I keep telling him spring is coming. Just hold on.

I hope he listens.

Susan Crossett has lived outside Cassadaga for more than 20 years. A lifetime of writing led to these columns as well as two novels. Her “Reason for Being” was published in 2008 with “Love in Three Acts” following in 2014. Information on all the Musings, her books and the author may be found at Susancrossett.com.