I walked into the kitchen this morning to find Crosley standing up. He followed me back to the sitting room and plopped down on his slobber-covered doggie cushion. The slow journey past the dining table and the family quilt hanging on the vestibule wall wore him out.
His breathing is hard and steady, but now, in this place, it is the most reassuring sound in the world: comforting and hopeful, like the deep roar of an old blues tune.
I am working downstairs, away from my perfectly appointed second-floor studio, until further notice. Until he is bright-eyed and eager. Until he is well. Crosley rests a few feet from me, where I can see him. Hear him. Lean over and ruffle his silky ears. When he looks lonely or sad, I climb down beside him for a reassuring cuddle or to massage the flattened fur under his collar. Every time I stand up, my tank top is covered in solid trails of saliva that criss-cross my chest like routes on a map. He drools uncontrollably. The sick boy cannot help himself. I crank up Erasure and forget about my filth.
He’s tired from nearly dying, and I’m tired from worrying. His fur brother Duncan is jealous yet gentle, patient. My husband is working a long restaurant shift, hard on the heels of nights spent sleeping on the couch or the kitchen floor next to our big guy. Crosley is dearly and absolutely loved, even if just two nights ago that love threatened to swallow our hearts whole.
His freckled nose is dry and his usually soft fur is patchy and rough, victims of both the infection that nearly killed him and the antibiotics and steroids that saved his life. Crosley’s still a beauty, though, a first-class handsome fella. All of the young ladies at the vet’s office adore him. His gentleness is like a love potion, a call to devotion, it’s enough to make a person who knows better make a bad rhyme. Yes, he is that kind of dog.
We are, as that noncommittal saying goes, cautiously optimistic. He is responding well to treatment, but his rapid weight-loss has left him weak. The deeper concern is that at this point no one knows if the infection is the only thing that is ailing him. I am hesitant to type these words, as if to even address his illness or nascent recovery could somehow play with his fate. Anger the gods. Fuck everything up. How superstitious, how silly, how human! So we move forward, one delicate day at a time, aware that we are doing all that we can and hoping that it is enough.
Crosley is a very good boy.