Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Twenty Dollars


My Dad and my wife have at least one thing in common. They both don’t like dogs. And as it often happens in these cases, dogs like them. That’s what they do, dogs that is. They love you unconditionally and will brook no dissent on the matter.

Actually Dad doesn’t mind the big fellow. We has a couple of dogs growing up and he wasn’t much of a fan, mostly because of the barking really. Although he actually mourned the first one, who passed at the age of twelve, he barely tolerated the second, quite likely because this one probably freaked him out a little. Probably I'm projecting, I don't think anything freaks out my old man. This dog though - he freaked me out. He did not age gracefully. His mouth became a foul hole as he aged so before he entered the room you could smell his approach. He was hit by a car and as a result ended up blind in one eye. (I used to bring my hand around to the front of his face around the blind side; it always made him jump.) He had a skin condition and his hearing failed (I’d clap my hands right beside his head and he would cock his noggin just a little at the faint echo) and by the end he was a shambling wreck but he wasn’t in any pain (so it seemed) and my mom delighted in him and so he lived to be fifteen, despite looking like something that had dug itself out of the Pet Semetary.

As for the big fellow, well my wife has never been a fan and when I first mused about buying a puppy almost twelve years ago she opined that she did not think it was a good idea. Considering that we had been going out for around two months at the time and also the fact that I am who I am, I ignored her. I still remember the look on her face when she came over to my apartment and found me sitting on the step watching the little guy wrestle a dandelion.

Not impressed.

She did not mind him too much in our younger days and for the most part she tolerates him these days except for one major problem – the fur. Everytime a black tumbleweed carries the boy off into another room she rages about how she can’t take it anymore. My reply, these days at least, is that he’ll be dead soon enough. She retorts that I have been saying this for two years now.

He is going to be twelve in August and he is slowing down. Last winter I came downstairs and he rose up to greet me and could not get any purchase for what seemed like hours until he finally found his footing. I went into the basement, leaned against the beer fridge and cried my eyes out.

That was fifteen months ago now and while he has slowed down somewhat since that January morning there have been no other episodes like that. He has lived to see another baby born and this one may love him most of all. This morning she knew he was lurking and tossed a good part of her breakfast his way and when he ambles over to the exersaucer to give her a kiss she opens her mouth wide.

Its quite disgusting really. We had company the other day and as our dog made out with our baby my wife went bananas.

He just had his mouth on his ass and now he is licking our baby’s mouth!

Yep.

One concession I have had to make to his age (and my own) is his rare bath time. When we lived in Florida it was a run down to Tampa Bay and since we moved back to the good country the summers have meant random lakes to clean the stink off of him. It’s the rest of the year that brings problems. We used to have a fair size laundry tub that I would heave him into but that exercise was leading me to a wrenched back for sure, lifting an unwilling seventy five pound mutt up four feet and wrestling him into soapy water. And when the tub was replaced by one just a little smaller the decision was made for me.

I officially became someone who has too much money for their own damn good as I began to bring him to ‘Wash your own’ facilities, with ramps for him to walk up into a tub, shampoo, towels, blowdryer and apron, all for the 20 bucks.

Its worth it, believe you me.

Now when my wife was out east recently it soon became apparent that the time was nigh. Walking into the house meant hitting a wall of stink as six to seven months of not being washed plus multiple rolls each day in the spring dirt of our backyard was adding up to a vortex of death. Throw in the fact that I was indiscriminately feeding him pasta and casseroles and we’re talking one seriously ripe canine.

So my folks are helping out with the kids when my wife is away and I mention that I’m going to get the dog washed the next night.

Mom: Oh Patrick, you’re not going to try and lift him into that tub are you? You’ll hurt your back.

Me: No, I’ll just bring him to that shop up on the Danforth. They have a tub there. Twenty bucks and he’s cleaned, dried and they take care of the mess.

Dad: Twenty bucks. (Dad was born in 1932)

Me: Yeah.

Dad: Do you drop him off? (Dad grew up during the great Depression and World War Two.)

Me: No, I wash him.

Dad: You pay them twenty bucks to wash him yourself. (Dad throws nickels around like manhole covers.)

Me: Um, yeah.

Dad (pause as he thinks): You know son, twenty bucks would buy an awful lot of bullets. (Looks at dog meaningfully)

(Dog looks back smirking, thanking his arse licking god that he is my dog. Smirk fades as he realizes that he is getting a bath).

If the Sharks lose tonight Doug Wilson might be reaching into his wallet. Or maybe he can borrow a twenty from Tambellini.

10 comments:

rananda said...

Top shelf stuff right here. I've recently been dreading the appearance of the first signs of the li'l guy slowing down; that they're still a ways off has not dampened my neurotic fear of the inevbitable. Beautiful and sad and funny, I'll take this writing over quibbles of ESP/60 and right-handed centers every time.

If SJ outshoots and outchances ANA badly again and still loses, Wilson and McLellan can't do much other than look to the sky and mutter. Luckily the Caps got a respite from that awful sauce.

Jonathan Willis said...

If SJ outshoots and outchances ANA badly again and still loses, Wilson and McLellan can't do much other than look to the sky and mutter.

Yep. Whaddya do about that kind of situation?

Black Dog said...

Thanks Rananda

JW - if SJ wins this series heads will roll, even if it goes as Rananda describes it.

It may not be right but its going to happen.

rananda said...

Whaddya do about that kind of situation?You drink heavily and become generally unpleasant to be around and you read with equal parts bemusement and rage the ramblings of bloggers and professional writers like Stan Fischler and even Pierre Lebrun alike say things like the Rangers have stepped up the intensity and the Capitals aren't playing playoff hockey and Ovechkin is not playing well and all sorts of other nonsense and you ultimately hope/pray that if one team continues to significantly outplay another the results have to turn around at some point.

I really don't know what else to do. I haven't been following the SJ/ANA series as closely, but what else can you do but soldier on and continue to do the things you're already doing well. Make a goalie change if you think that's the problem and hope your 20-year old backup has the goods. What you can't do is let merely the results color your understanding of the events and your decisionmaking that follows.

Rolling heads solely on the basis of results and not on the actual driving substance is probably the wrong move. Though don't get Doug Risebrough started on that.

spOILer said...

But rananda...

The public and their coloured perception, must be appeased, mustn't they?

Swabbubba said...

ahh the trials of a Dog Owner. I am glad that our dog Sam is a beage. About 35 pounds or so depending on how much mooching he gets away with. I feel sorry he actually vibrates when begging for certain food. He loves the perogies.
I wondered about larger dogs.. spring is bad time for my hound as he is built low to the ground he soaked and muddied from every walk.
The playoffs Montreal has no pride, SJ is close can they come back(me says no), The Nicks who knew, best series is Calgary and Chicago although Pierre M is going to stroke out if he does calm down on the man love.

In Oiler news.. ohh there is no news. 3 things the team need to get done:
Ice Plant
Coach
A blogger station separate from the
press box. With limited access to players after the game.

rananda said...

I've always loved and defended the public in theory and hated and cursed them to no end in practice. If the team-aided media engaged in a higher level and more relevant discourse it would be easier to appease the public without doing the wrong things.

Thinking about adopting a second one, perhaps a beagle actually. You know that eerie sense of calm and foreshadowing silence that occurs right before you make a monumental mistake, that's the feeling I get as I typed that.

Robert... said...

My dad was born in '28...same attitude.

I dread telling him I spent 3 bucks on a squeaky toy for our 10 yr old golden...who is getting stiff when she gets up.

sniff...sniff..

Jay said...

By the time my ex and I broke up last fall, her dog was getting up there (12 years). She's a big old black lab - just a friendly, slobbering, stinky old thing. Exactly what every dog should be. She could do no wrong in my eyes. But her poos were definitely getting worse, and it was taking more and more effort for her to go up and down the stairs leading to the front door. The week before we broke up, her dog had a tumour removed.

Every once in a while I'll run into the ex and cautiously ask how the dog is doing - timid not just because I don't want to see the ex cry, but because I'm afraid of the answer as well.

Bill Simmons may have jumped the shark a while ago, but he wrote a moving tribute to his dog a few months back.

Off to go cry now...

mattwatt said...

I still have the Sharks winning there series. Just seems like too much for Anaheim to keep down.

As for the story on the dog, loved it. Our beloved cattle dog 'Dodi' died last year, and it left a large hole in me for quite some time. Like so many other things in life, you really don't how good of a faithful companion you had until they are gone.