Let me say a few things about dogs in their dotage. Specifically, how my dog Brutie – now 15 years old – spends his days and nights.
Despite not being socialized in the house until he was three months old, Brutie was housebroken quickly. When he needed to go, he whimpered, whined, did a little dance and headed for the door. While he would piddle just about anywhere in the yard, one area only was reserved for heavy commerce.
And so it went throughout the years. Ninety percent of my lawn was normal for the neighborhood, while the remaining 10 percent had a lushness to it that made lawn care specialists slow down and wonder as they drove by.
Outside, Brutie still heads for the old dumping ground, but inside his dance routine has changed. He sleeps a lot, and sometimes when he wakes he has difficulty getting the caboose to communicate with the engine. And while his front legs are already in motion, his hindquarters remain in prelaunch.
Once in gear, however, he raises his tail high and goes into a partial squat, all while trying to whine, whimper and head for the door.
He doesn’t always make it, and sometimes leaves a small deposit behind. This confuses and embarrasses him. As far as he knew, he was in full throttle headed for the northwest corner of the yard.
We have learned to watch for Brutie’s “hightail” mode, and whenever he flies his flag, we rush him out the door, and – as the old joke goes – hope everything comes out all right.
Sometimes when he comes in his tail is still up, which means he probably circled the field a couple times but was unable to land. It also means in another five minutes he will realize his mission remains unfinished and will need to go back out.
So our evenings go. During the night I sleep with an ear cocked for the click-clack sounds of a desperate dog hightailing it across the kitchen floor.
Sometimes he wakes me to go out a couple times during the night. It’s OK, since I usually have to go myself. There are some parallels between dogs and guys in their dotage.
The vet says Brutie is mostly deaf and nearly blind. Mysteriously, he can still hear me open the refrigerator from three rooms away, and he can see me rise from my chair to go into the kitchen – even when he is sound asleep.
Brutie has been a good friend for many years. We all have limited time, so it’s easy to forgive his mishaps, and I don’t have a problem being his doorman whenever he needs to hightail it.