September 28, 2015 Auburn, California (right on the canyon)
He wakes me up with breathy snot and saliva sprayed through gnarled teeth and slitted nostrils.
It’s a hideous sight to see first thing in the morning, or ever for that matter.
I tell him to go back to sleep, but he insists that he must pee.
He makes for the sliding glass door, tapping his clawed toe nails up the hardwood steps.
By the time we reunite, he acts unforgiving and bothered for having waited so long.
Oh shush, I tell him.
And he flaps his brindle-bag ears forward.
Out you go, I command. Go pee.
I think about my blankets, hoping their holding in the heat I’d been making all night.
He does a prancing hop down the back steps and out onto the grass.
I take this moment to look out over the American River Canyon.
It’s gorgeous at this hour and makes me less upset at Moses’ early morning routine.
I check on him from the high part of the deck; not wanting to exert energy that’ll get my blood flowing too much by descending the stairs onto the patio, and I barely open my eyes.
You done? I groan.
He seems preoccupied with a creature in a shrub. Actually, it’s a stick or a rock or a blade of grass or some figment of his dogged imagination.
Seriously, Mo. Let’s move.
He makes his way back inside, I close the door, latch it locked, and return to my morning daze beneath blankets.
I’m nearly dreaming again when a hot slop of tongue, mixed with foul garbage-can stench, lathers my cheek.
It’s now time to wake up.
Moses does a trot around the kitchen as I begin to prep coffee.
Again, he’s terribly offended that I’ve neglected his silver bowl.
I walk over to it and play stupid.
This? I ask. You want something in this?
If his pouty face could talk, it’d say “I may look like a hideous numskull, but I’m not at all amused by these childish games you play. Fill it up, chief.”
I add a scoop of dusty brown pebbles and a splash of water to soften kibble contact against his aging gums.
His liquid-filled chomps sound as if an octopus is being mauled.
I turn on music.
After I’ve been working at the dining room table for fifteen minutes or so, he begins to stare at the back door.
If his thoughts could move objects they would’ve opened the door by now and he would’ve already plopped his daily ritual on the back lawn.
But dogs need us humans. We are friends for a reason.
His frantic hopping is a sign that I should not delay, lest I wish to clean floors.
When he’s not performing a four-legged dance for attention he communicates with his breath. And I’m learning his airy vocabulary.
The quicker it goes the more eager he is to eat, pee, poop, or chase something.
His long sighs are a sign that he’s ready to be lying down in the same spot for the greater part of a day.
His one-off grunts are his way of saying hello, goodbye, and I’m happy/sad/confused/frustrated/discontent/angsty/frightened/etc.
They are difficult to discern.
Right now, for example, he’s pacing and breathing heavily.
I try to interpret this wordless cacophony of beastly noise vomit:
I’ve already let him outside.
I’ve fed him.
No sharp objects are protruding from his back.
He lays down on the floor next to me and looks up with his mopey brown eyes.
Work? They seem to ask.
Oh to be a dog, I think.
Moses, you’ve got it good, my friend.