Tuesday, July 08, 2008

look, puppy, no hands

July may be the cruelest month for the dog. His left rear leg collapsed while he was trying to climb the stairs to the second floor -- merely to be with me. I was not certain he was going to be able to stand.

When we take our walk, he totters -- like a card table walking down the pavement -- with two dodgy legs.

And then he insists on climbing on the brick decoration that skirts the creek. The photograph flattens the drop off on the creek side. It is at least a ten foot drop -- and I know I could not catch him if he tripped over his gamy rear leg.

But I let him do it every day. Part of the reason is that he is old and he takes pleasure in being able to walk on a ledge that would give me trouble. The second reason is that there is little I can do to prevent his antics. He is the most willful dog I have ever owned. And he would dispute the assertion in the second half of that sentence: I do not own him.

As I walk along with him, I hear Patti LuPone singing "Look, Mummy, No Hands." The tune is a poignant memory of a girl growing up and watching her own child be careless. "Look, mummy, no hands/ I called as I passed her/ faster and faster/"Hold tight my darling, "she cried out in fear/ But I laughed and pretended that I could not hear ."

And I gave a bittersweet smile.

Billy Collins catches the flavor, but with a quite different net. His "The Revenant" is a poem in the voice of a dog who has been put to sleep, but returns with a message for his master: "I never liked you -- not one bit." One stanza should give you the flavor:
I admit the sight of the leash
would excite me
but only because it meant I was about
to smell things you had never touched.

I was going to save this poem for the day I put Jiggs down. I knew that I would react badly, and I thought this would be as good as any anchor. I am convinced that Billie Collins is a poetic master of turning what could be mawkish sentimentality into wisdom. So, dear readers, we most likely will share this poem again.

But not today. Because the carousel just goes faster and faster. And Jiggs has taught me that life is about shouting out: "Look. No hands."

Even if he does not like me -- not one bit.

[You can read "The Revenant" here.]


Islaholic Trixie said...

I have been trying to take life on with the "look, no hands" theme lately. The reason I finally got my first tattoo!!
Jiggs is a beatiful dog. We had to put our oldest German Shephard down a few years ago because her hips finally gave out. Jiggs will let you know when it is time...for now he will walk the bridge with no hands.

islagringo said...

I don't think a dog has ever been born that did not like its' master. Even the abused ones come back for more. I don't think you need to worry about Mr. Jiggs not singing your praise.

Billie said...

Our previous dog was a wonderful creature (as is Taylor) but he had survived 2 years with cancer. He became so weak he couldn't stand. It was heartbreaking. I told Ned that when I came home from work that afternoon we were going to take him to the vet to be put to sleep. He had been beside Ned's feet that afternoon but he managed to get up and wobble to his bed about 15 minutes before I came home. A few minutes later Ned went to check on him and he was dead. Both you and Jiggs will know when it is time.

Steve Cotton said...

Brenda, Wayne, Billie -- Thanks for the comments. After I wrote the post, I thought his time had come. I spent the night on the floor sleeping with him because he was having trouble breathing. He made it through the night, and was a bit slow this morning. It may be time for another steroid shot to get him through some of his joint pain. He definitely is not through with life, yet.

Theresa in Mèrida said...

I hope that Mr Jiggs makes to Mexico with you. Not to give you false hope but I have known many humans with joint pain that feel much better in the heat and humidity. Where you live is chilly even on a hot day. Dogs don't hold grudges but have an infinite ability to love.

Steve Cotton said...

Theresa -- I keep hoping that he will be able to make the trip, and he keeps amazing me by holding.

Babs said...

Steve, I read this blog early this morning and was so distressed I couldn't write. I feel your sadness and dilemma. I don't even know what else to say........

Colette said...

Hope Jiggs is able to rally like he did before. Who is going to take care of him when you leave in a week for Mexico?

Steve Cotton said...

Babs -- Thanks for your thoughts.

Colette -- Mom will come watch him for the week I am in Mexico. I will take him in to the vet tomorrow to get a steroid shot.

New Beginnings said...

Mr. Jiggs is absolutely adorable and I hope he is able to join you on your adventures in Mexico. Enjoy every moment!

Steve Cotton said...

He is a great dog. However, it would truly be a miracle if he is still around this time next year for my move south.