I left her alone in the house while I was gone for 5.5 hours. When I got home and saw her standing by the door, I said, “Lanis, Lanis, let’s go outside” on a rising pitch with “outside” emphasized, the way I had always said it with Darwin and Keeper. An enthusiastic voice got them following happily. I held the door and screen door open for her to go ahead and coming behind her chanted, “Lanis is bow-legged. She’s bow-legged.” She turned to look at me and I did a play-bow. She did one back.
I laughed and we were off, bouncing toward each other and away, running around the sumac tree first one direction, then the other. I grabbed her and with both hands scrubbed down her back. Around we went again before I took off down the gravel path to the lower yard with her following, then back up again.
No dog of mine had played in months. Nor had I laughed with my dog in months,since Keeper's death, being worried and anxious every time I came home and saw the reminder that Darwin would not be with me much longer.
I entered the house through the front door and saw him asleep on the large bed I had fashioned out of memory foam and an old comforter. Too deaf to hear me, he would not know I was there until I touched him or spoke his name loudly. Then he got up slowly, stiffly and walked with me out the door to relieve himself. I could not remember when he had last greeted me at the door, stuffed toy in his mouth, eyes gleaming and tail wagging, ready to run.
On a towel spread on the living room carpet near her bed lay one metal bowl of water, one Fiesta ware cereal bowl of water, one plastic bowl containing kibble and a handful of kibble directly on the towel. I lured her over with a piece of canned food proffered in my hand. She sniffed at the kibble, nose moving closer as she extended her neck without stepping forward. Out went the tongue to curl around a few pieces. I did not move or speak. She stepped forward and ate the rest. I tapped the food bowl lightly. She sniffed but would not eat. I lifted the cereal bowl of water to her and she lapped a bit.
When I went upstairs to bed, she was standing a few feet from the towel, watching me. “Gonna come up?” She did not move. “I’m not going to help you this time.” I continued up the stairs to my room, then went back a few minutes later to peer down between the banister rails. She stood in the same place. I flicked off the lights over the stairway. Maybe she would eat or drink later, when the house was dark and quiet.