Our dog, Alex, is a month shy of her 18th birthday. She suffers from a variety of age-related complaints, including arthritis, nerve damage, and occasional incontinence. She is pretty frail and sometimes needs help simply walking. We seldom leave her alone for more than a couple of hours at a time.
Tuesday night she’d been home alone for just a couple of hours when we returned from dinner. At that dinner, Jonah and I shared a “molten chocolate cake” for dessert, Jonah sitting on my lap as we ate. This was wonderful, father-son-bonding-wise, but it made eating a little awkward, and at one point a piece of cake leapt off my fork on its way to my mouth, bouncing off my shirt and pants and landing on the floor. Being “molten,” it made some big brown stains on my clothes, a portent of what was to come.
Words fail me when trying to convey, in appropriately visceral terms, what we found when we got home, so I’ll have to settle for simply stating the facts:
- Alex pooped on the living room carpet.
- She fell down in it and could not get back up.
- She tried a lot.
We found her splayed on the floor in the center of a tremendous brown circle, smelling bad. Real bad. And clearly traumatized, poor girl.
All of the following then needed to happen at once:
- Calm Alex down
- Air her out
- Clean her off
- Clean the carpet
- Keep the kids away from the mess
I got the Alex-related jobs, Andrea got the house- and kid-related ones. Alex and I went out onto the lawn for a while. She was trembling and unsteady on her feet, but after a short while and some soothing talk she was clearly feeling better. So then it was time to get her in the bathtub.
Frail and old though she is, Alex’s coat is still thick and lustrous — when it’s not caked with fecal matter, that is. I spent about a week that night restoring that coat to its rightful sheen. Poor Alex has trouble standing at the best of times, but weighed down with a coatful of water, her feet on bare porcelain, and so soon after lying helpless (and injured from her struggling, most likely) in a pile of shit for who knows how long, was a bit much to ask. So with one hand I supported her weak back legs while with the other hand I directed the handheld shower spray all over her, my third and fourth hands lathering her up with sweet-smelling shampoo. Crippling my weak lower back by doing all this while leaning over the bathtub rim was a given.
A day and a half later and Alex is beautiful again, and seems back to her usual self. I wish I could say the same for the carpet; it’s still discolored and the smell isn’t quite gone. It’s covered with a layer of towels for now. Another couple of assaults with cleaning chemicals and sessions of vigorous scrubbing over the next day or so will tell whether the carpet can be rejuvenated like Alex or whether it will have to be put to sleep.