Monday, March 09, 2020

Doomed for a Dog

Excerpts from Paws and Reflect

To celebrate the new cover for the classic essay collection Sharon Sakson and I published, Paws & Reflect, I'm publishing some excerpts from the essays. This one comes from Donald Hardy's very funny essay, "Puppy Whipped."

The last few weeks of my Cocker Spaniel Casey’s life, I took her for “walks” under the vet’s instructions not to let her walk.

The doctor on the case (who was fabulous) was upbeat but slightly evasive about the prognosis. Diagnosis, too, was slightly uncertain, but she did give Casey treatment: a steroid to encourage the marrow of her aging bones to crank out red blood cells; puppy Pepto to calm the stomach so she could take the steroid; antibiotics; and soft food, special stuff that looked, the doctor said, like paté. “She loves it,” she said. “She has been chowing down all day. Only feed her this. And no exercise. Out the door to pee, right back in, and rest.”

Permanently. She was supposed to do nothing but eat expensive pâté and sleep. It’s a dog’s life, indeed.” But Dr. Fab,” I said. “I live on a boat, about 200 yards worth of dock from the shore. We have to walk that far for her to get to where she can pee.”

“No, ” replied the doc.”That’s too far. You carry her.” Silence.

“Well, OK, ” I said. I let Casey do her business when I got her home, then carried her down the dock. This wasn’t too bad, as she only weighed thirty-five pounds, but I had a strong sense that it would get old fast. I eyed up the dock carts. I’d nearly killed myself the year before when carrying my other dog, Bear, up to the shore for a vet visit. Bear weighed in at eighty pounds.

“Hmmm,” I thought.”Maybe I’ll get a nice big one that’ll fit both dogs, and then neither will have to walk . . . assuming they’ll let me push ’em. If they don’t, that’s a wasted 250 bucks. I’ll wait.”

As I was coming back from walking Bear that evening, Patty and Dennis, my neighbors in the marina, asked what was wrong with Casey. I explained, and they offered a little dock cart they didn’t need. About twenty minutes later, Dennis knocked on my deck and said, “Here it is! You’ll have to hose it down, but it should work for her.”

I climbed up on deck and thanked him, and then looked at the dock cart.

Don's Novel
It was small. It was red. It was cute.

I was doomed.

Eleven o’clock rolled around, and it was time for Casey’s late night—well, I suppose one ought not to call it a walk—“outing.” I took some puppy blankets up and lined the bottom of the cart, then carried Casey up on deck, deposited her in her little cart, and started down the dock.

So. There I was. A forty-seven-year-old, six-foot-two, 200-pound man, pulling a small, fluffy golden dog down the dock in a cute, little red wagon.

Find Donald Hardy online here.

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