Inside my jaded little dark heart, I hold a tremendous amount of compassion for children, animals, the elderly and disabled.
Three of my four dogs fall in three of those categories. They are old – their human year age rank up in the 90s – they can barely get around and need diapers for dogs; and well, the given is, they are dogs.
It’s like I have a nursing home for dogs.
Well, not really, but it feels like it some days.
Venus has cataracts and fell off the deck steps once, thinking she was already on the ground when she wasn’t. She thought my finger was a dog treat and bit it. After visiting the frog pond, she returned wearing a dog frown, wet and with leaves in her ears.
“She fell off the bridge,” Lamar explained, seeing my questioning glance.
“How did she do that?” I asked.
He shook his head.
“I don’t know, she can’t see. She just … fell in.”
“Can’t you get her surgery?” Mama asked, noticing the clouds on the old girls soulful eyes.
“We could – but Mama, she’s 13. I don’t feel comfortable putting her under anesthesia.”
That’s like 98 years old in people years.
Pepper the Evil Beagle is 13 also – but being a nasty evil little hound she doesn’t strike the same sympathetic character as the shepherds do.
She’s still plotting my death as I breathe for forcing her to wear a doggie sweater.
Roubaix has separation anxiety if he’s alone for too long. We won’t even get into the accidents if he reaches his time limit. Same goes for Venus. Both of them can’t jump up on the couch with the same swiftness they once could.
“One day, I will have enough land, and enough time where I can adopt a bunch of dogs and have the time to love on them,” I declared to Mama one day. “I want to adopt some senior dogs too – they deserve to live out their lives on a couch being loved.”
Mama thought that was a good idea.
“Are you going to let me live out my last days on your couch too?” she asked, half teasing, half seriously.
“Of course I will,” I said. “By then, I will even have you your own bed.”
She already fights with Venus over the couch when she comes to visit now. I think I can and should get my mama her own bed by the time she comes to stay with me.
“You’ve always had a kind heart when it comes to things that can’t take care of themselves,” Mama noted. “Children, animals – you even tried to ‘rescue’ a caterpillar once. Do you remember that?”
I did. I accidentally killed it. I was heartbroken for weeks.
“The elderly,” she continued, deep in thought. “What about Granny?”
“What about Granny?” I asked.
All of a sudden, I was very afraid of where this conversation was going.
“Well, she’s old; don’t you feel a lot of compassion for her?”
Compassion? For this 90-something year old woman who is still as mean as the day is long?
“She can’t necessarily defend herself,” Mama continued. “She has to walk with a walker now. She can’t hear well, either.”
That’s the deafness façade Granny has created so she can hear our conversations and make sure we aren’t trying to shuttle her off to a home.
“Uh-huh. Funny how she slips up and will argue with you about something you said in another room that she supposedly can’t hear.”
Mama kept on.
“It just worries me because I wonder if you are going to feel this way about me when I finally get, you know, old-old. Not medium old. You seem to have more love for that geriatric old dog than you do your own grandmother.”
“Well, Mama, here’s the difference,” I began my explanation. “Venus has not slapped me until my teeth rattled, nor has that critter ever tricked me into eating something like a chitterling and told me it was good for me. And, the only time Venus has ever bit me, it was because she thought my finger was a piece of chicken.”
“Granny bit you?”
“No, but she probably would if she could. She’s mean, Mama. Trust me; the old gal can take care of herself. Venus can’t fire a shotgun. Granny can.”
She has and would do it again too.
“So if something, God forbid, happened to me and your uncle…” Mama let the question hang in the air, waiting for confirmation or condemnation.
“I promise,” I said, “I will put her in the best home money can buy.”
I just hope the nurses are armed with tranquilizer guns.