Tuesday, September 28, 2010


So, every night (or early morning), whenever it is that I finally decide to peel myself off the couch, and just before I make my way up to bed, I wander out into the backyard in my bare feet, clapping and stomping wildly beneath the moon and stars.

And before you way-too-easily make the not-so-much-of-a-stretch leap and assume that it's some ritualistic pagan love chant, it's really not. It's the only way I can call our getting-deafer-by-the-day aging dog, Ryce, to come in for the night.

Her hearing's been going pretty steadily for about a year now.  Well, likely much longer than that, but for a few years there I think we just thought she'd had enough of all the bickering and totally tuned us out.

As it turns out, though, it's really just that she's getting old. :(

She'll be turning 12 next month.  And I still remember the day we got her.  The boys that lived upstairs from us in New Orleans found her mother and a brand new litter of mutt pups beneath a house they owned just outside of the Garden District.  They were able to find new homes for every single one of the male puppies, and even the mother, but no one wanted Ryce.

She was the runt.
The only girl.
The one with the least chance of survival.
The one with the broken spirit.
And the one with the broken tail from all her siblings suckling on it thinking it was a teet (which we had docked, so now she's just got a nub).

Next thing you know, she's in my bed.  And that pretty much sums up my life to this point. ;P

So now the old girl's losing her hearing, which, I know, in this family is indubitably a blessing and a curse.  And so, whenever we need her to stop barking at the neighbors, or come in to the kennel, or come and get her medicine, we have to stomp on the ground and clap really loudly, hoping she'll catch the vibrations.  Sometimes she'll "hear" one or the other. Most often, it takes both.  Oddly enough, she still hears the word "treat" just fine. Mmm-hmm.

So, I'm out on the back porch in the middle of the night, stomping and clapping, as the rats and raccoons and God-knows-what-else scurry away in terror. Unable to tell if Ryce is up on the hill, around the corner, or right here next to me in her dog house because the moon is completely enshrouded, I bang on the dog house roof.  Nothing. Then I go over to Reyna's doghouse, which is slightly smaller, and bang on that roof.  Still nothing.  I kick the door slightly, and the whole thing shakes.  Ah-ha!

Bending over, I see her staring back at me with those big, brown sleepy but startled doe eyes.  Trying to focus.  Wishing she was still dreaming of that glorious week she got to spend at that doggie resort while we were on vacation a few years ago.  And I begin to clap in front of her face and point to the garage.

[Clap, clap, clap]

So that she understands.

[Stomp! Stomp!]

That it's time to come in.

[Point. Hard. Again. Harder.]

And she just stares at me.

She used to jump right up, of course.  But, here lately, she's taken to pretty much not giving a shit anymore.  I mean, hell, she's 84.  She's DONE giving a shit. She's over this man's best friend gig, is all ready to retire, and pack up her little bag of snausages and hop a puddle jumper to Maui, man. She's D-O-N-E. Done.

But I'm a persistent polly.

And eventually, like most people, she just gives in because I wear her down.

So, she crawls out of the house with her head hanging low, and slowly makes her way into the garage where I have to keep her at night because although she may look like a tired old grandma at the moment, right around 3am or so, she tends to get her second wind, barks at the mere fact that life exists, and generally drives me insane.

So, I lock the little one in her kennel and point to the doggie bed we've left near, but no longer in the kennel, for Ryce.  And she just stares at me.

I point again. Seriously straining my finger on that last one, I think.  And give her the lay down sign. And she looks at the bed.  And then looks back up at me.

"ugh," I sigh.

But I walk back outside, over to the doghouse, get down on my hands and knees on the filthy concrete floor, and pull out the much fluffier doggie bed, return to the garage, and throw it down onto the floor right next to the other one.

She looks over at the two beds side by side.  And then she just stares at me.

"Oh, forf*ck'ssake, Ryce! What IS it?!" I beg.

She looks at the fluffier bed, then back to me.  And the request slaps me upside the head.

"You've got to be kidding me?!?!" I say, incredulously.

But I take the fluffier bed and pile it ATOP the older bed, aaaaaand...she immediately climbs up, circles a few times, and settles in quite comfortably.

She looks up at me once more, and I'm pretty sure she batted her eyelashes 'cause before I knew it, I was giving her a treat and scratching her under the chin.

Mumbling all sorts of obscenities I don't think I can spell properly under my breath as I head back inside, I stop to turn out the light out and glance back at our poor aged Ryce-a-roni, and my heart melts a little again. Still hanging on after all these years, after all those moves across the country, after all the other pets have come and gone (except for the chihuahua, whom she's convinced is immortal, and probably a vampire), and even after the two monsters came into her life and changed pretty much everything about her place in our lives.

And she's snoring. Already.

All nice and cozy.  Curled up in that perfect fetal position.

All comfy on her friggin' double-layered bed.

While I'm out here, in the middle of the night, my feet and knees covered in dirt, my hands and shirt smelling of dog and synthetic turkey jerky.

And...I think...she's...actually smiling...the beaming satiated smile of someone who has finally figured out exactly how to work the system!!!  The fucker.

1 comment:

teeveezed said...

Ours is 14, has cataracts and is going deaf, lover her so much it brings tears to my eyes.

p.s. She's a silky terrier named Wheezer.