August 16, 2012
Although we’d agreed, my spouse had to keep up the pressure. I dialed the surgery: “Our Maltese, Percy, can you put him down today please?”
“Judith [name changed] is free at 4.15.”
Percy was near-deaf, near-blind, and arthritic. That day a line had been crossed: two carpet puddles and one carpet poo.
I took Percy and Kara (our daughter’s resident spaniel) for another walk along the creek. Percy, strangely shedding his years, scampered down the embankment and even scrambled up again.
With Percy sitting on the car’s back seat – he was used to trips to the vet to be clipped - I surreptitiously put a green towel and a chaff-bag in the boot.
During what seemed a long wait in the back surgery, I didn’t fuss over Percy (hypocritical). But I did dwell on how our enraptured kids first brought him home as a powderpuff puppy. They made him his first bed inside my bike helmet.
Judith put Percy on a blanket on the table. I felt less guilty as he turned to me with milky eyes and discolored little teeth.
Judith shaved his right front shin with clippers as I stroked him. He didn’t flinch as she inserted a catheter and squeezed in some fluid. Within seconds his four legs folded. He was now a white heap asleep, but alive, on the blue blanket. Judith squeezed in another fluid, and listened through a stethoscope. “He’s gone now,” she said. “Fifteen years, we had him,” I said, adding: “Er, how do I pay you?” “Don’t worry, I’ll post the bill.”
Percy hung like a slack sausage out of the towel. “Take the blanket,” she said. “Don’t you want it back?” “No, that’s fine.” I exited with my parcel by the rear door.
I put the parcel on our side garden, then went in to collect Kara to give Percy a final sniff, for “closure”. Kara always runs to me to get her chin and ears rubbed. This time, she was on the decking and ran inside, away from me. I went inside, she ran out. She showed real fear. My wife had to capture her via an ambush behind the dog-door. Kara took a sniff at Percy but then showed more interest in the blanket (smells of other dogs, I’d guess).
My all-knowing tennis mates had said, “Three feet deep or rats dig ‘em up.” Percy nose-dived awkwardly out of his blanket into the hole. I quickly back-filled, planted an azalea and watered it in. My wife added two rose blooms.
Now there are no more carpet puddles - imagine if Kara had been the secret culprit! But Kara avoids us (I don’t blame her) and lies in her basket looking nowhere through half-shut eyes. As her comforters, I’ve added two socks and a pair of used underpants to the basket.
Already my wife and I have separate, secret plans for a puppy.
The Quadrant Book of Poetry: 2001 - 2010
edited by Les Murray