Tag: KarenWalker

One Morning, Old Pepper Has Four Again

Apr 12  |  Karen Walker

Half asleep, I count them by the dim grim light through the curtains. One, two, three long white hound legs. Fffour. Blink. I count again. Four legs!

My God.

Pepper gets up from his blanket, teeters to my bed on sticks that are stiff, but all there. He pants that he doesn’t know how or why.

I hug the big knobby head and cry tears made overnight about the osteosarcoma. Amputation of his left front leg—black spots formed a funny little smile just above the elbow—would, the vet said, hopefully give him six months. It was the right thing to do. It was.

Pepper pulls away from me and leaves the room, and I think he’s thinking it wasn’t. In the hallway, he woofs. Get up. Woofs. Stop blubbering.

All day, all this miraculous day, he and I skip and dance.

And, damn, do I ever pay for it.

On the second blurry morning of Pepper’s new leg, my seventy-year-old knees are hot and swollen.

“Mum’s not good today,” I tell him as he spins in circles, spinning faster than even before the cancer. He gobbles his breakfast like he hasn’t in forever. I wash down my pain pills with weak tea, stagger to the couch. He trots around the house loose and easy.

Pepper can be a jerk. I remember that at dawn on morning number three, after he’s bounced on the bed all night with four springy legs.

Sigh. I agree to a short, slow, careful walk, but Pepper pulls mightily as if we had never ever gone to doggy good manners class. Down, down I go to the sidewalk in front of Grocery Giant. My beloved dog—the un-Lassie—doesn’t run for help. He just shrugs. Sniffs a tree. I’m on my hands and excruciating knees.

An old couple finds me like I once found Pepper. They kindly drive us home, laughing weakly, “He’s a lot of dog for someone our age.” Pepper stands on me in the backseat. I yelp, say to them, “Yeah, maybe too much.”

The next morning isn’t the fourth miraculous morning. I’m wide awake and haven’t slept all night, and I know not to count by the dim winter light. Not count my bumps and scrapes from the fall or count Pepper’s legs. I’ll heal, but he’s got three again and three days less than six months.

Pepper can’t get up from his blanket. He can’t even form a shaky hound tripod.

My knees are tight, but better: not sure how or why. I swing out of bed to help him, reaching under his barrel chest. Pepper is white fur stretched over sharp bones. “Stand up. Do it for Mum.”

He growls. I think he’s thinking about what the couple said, and what I wisecracked.

Pepper’s wet eyes—more tears made overnight—follow me. He woofs. Bring his pain pills. Woofs. And water to wash them down.