Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mr. Lumpy

I got my first dog in 1979. He lived to be 16. Shortly after we moved to California, our second dog, a handsome and noble Malamute graced our family by sharing our home. In the ten years he spent with us, we became used to being stopped by strangers on the street admiring him. Our neighbors adored him. Contractors working on the house loved him. Small children at My Son's school fell upon him with hugs and kisses.

But that's not what this post is about. This post is about Mr. Lumpy.

Around Christmas last year, friends who were moving back east approached us. They had an old dog, and they had to make a decision about him.

Well, silly me, I spoke up and said - "Of course, we'll keep him for you!" Thus came Mr. Lumpy into our lives.

We hoped that The Malamute and Mr. Lumpy would be friends, but although they tolerated one another, The Malamute was the boss, and he put Mr. Lumpy in his place when he encroached too much.

Given Mr. Lumpy's age and decrepitude, we felt he would not be with us long. But, in fact, we lost The Malamute first. He died last summer of liver disease.

Mr. Lumpy's about 15 or 16 years old, a Rottweiler mix, with a strange bony growth sticking out of his skull. He has fatty tumors on his hips and hind legs. His gait is irregular - he actually trips on his own paws, and he has traction problems. Sometimes he can't get up, and scrabbles weakly on the polished floor until we hear and lift him to his feet. We've laid throw rugs, yoga matts, and doormats in a pathway so he can safely make his daily rounds without collapsing.

Mr. Lumpy has trouble with stairs. We have a split level, so the flights are only 5 or 6 steps. It's amazing to watch the daring with which he has been forced to act just to get around the house. He gathers his strength at the foot of the stairs, before thrusting his two front paws onto the highest step he can reach, hoping to propel his hind legs to a middle step. To descend, he poises at the top, and then leaps as in a steeplechase to the floor below. I have seen some spectacular wipe-outs on descent, let me tell you.

Mr. Lumpy is a bit aloof - he's deaf, actually. And because he came to us as an old dog, he has been slow to bond with us. I admit we were spoiled by The Malamute, who routinely put his paw on one's knee, and looked deeply and soulfully into one's eyes.

In fact, we did Mr. Lumpy an injustice when The Malamute's illness grew more serious. We began finding puddles of dog pee on our kitchen floor in the mornings, and thought it was some kind of doggie passive/agressive territorial marking by Mr. Lumpy. We scolded, and devised all kinds of methods to confine him.

Then we caught The Malamute in the act.

It was like that movie "The Bad Seed" - you know the one; where the plain, unwanted child is blamed for all the broken crockery, thefts, and occasional murders, when instead it turns out to be the darling beloved golden-haired pet of the family.

Anyway, it's now been six months since The Malamute died. Mr.Lumpy mourned him by refusing to eat for a day.

Mr. Lumpy is kind of like other geriatrics. When it gets late in the evening, he nudges us with his muzzle, and then walks expectantly toward the bedroom hallway. It reminds me of My Father, who, when he was ready to go to bed, walked around the house pointedly turning off all the lights - except for the one nearest to you in the living room where you were watching TV.

He grows on you, Mr. Lumpy. We're used to him now. He is our family's dog.


SUEB0B said...

Oh, that makes me want to cry at your kindness in taking in an old, unattractive, lumpy dog. I have a special soft spot for old, old dogs.

Tootsie Farklepants said...

I just wanna hug your bony dog. I LOVE dogs!

And YAY you! You started a blog!

JCK said...

This is a very sweet post, g!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Lumpy is very luck that he came to live with you. And so are you.

Lynn - the piggy bank painter said...

Wonderful story. You are great to take in Mr. Lumpy.....he's lucky to have you.

Mary Alice said...

Ohhhhh Mr Lumpy's story...your story with Mr Lumpy, well it's all so selfless and so beautiful. Thanks for pointing me to it.