It’s possible that yesterday, on the ninth birthday of crommy crom, the bombest of crommests, we spoiled him the tiniest bit. It’s possible this is because every time I look at his little face, which has gotten so very gray, my heart seizes up and I get to thinking about the life spans of dogs and the feeling of loss and the inevitable heat death of my own personal universe and my heart seizes up and my brain goes all haywire and then suddenly my dog is buried under an avalanche of love, some of which is in boughten form.
In the morning we jumped right up, when he indicated he was awake by whopping me on the head with a heavy paw and whining about the difficulities of being him, Crom, in the world without a person to love him or understand the pain the he, Crom, suffers every day vis a vis being understood, loved properly the way he should, treated with the respect he deserves, and not ever having a stomach full enough of things that are not kibble, which is evil formed into small crunchy pieces and sent to earth to plague him.
We leapt into the world where he got to run free and happy in the park and then fly down the seawall, barking after birds without me trailing behind weakly saying no, stop, Crom, hey, don’t, what, oh, hell, fuck, and damn. We stopped at a play structure and clambered all over it, and he went down the slide many times, and then demanded that I too go down the slide many times (dampening my butt) as he followed after, and then we experimented with various configurations of going down the slide together, most of which were awkward but all of which he celebrated as successful.
We ran across the big old soccer field, and then I hooked him up to his leash and he towed me across the boulevard because he had opinions about our next stop, the pet store. He had strong opinions about how fast we should get there (quickly) and how we should improve our time (by diving into traffic and cutting diagonally across the street) and three small older ladies found his determination charming and hilarious because they were not the ones trying to hold back a 35 pound dog who is stronger than I am and always has been.
At the pet store, he carefully inspected all the offered wares and selected a four-foot-long bull penis. I handed it to him, and he bolted for the door because no way was anyone going to take away his bull penis, no how. He dragged me home and he settled down in our bed with his bull penis (our bed!) and he spent the entire afternoon gnawing that thing down to a greasy spot on our bed (our bed!).
And then we napped the nap of the just (and for some of us the just-have-eaten a four-foot bull penis). For his evening walk, K took him to the beach where he frolicked like a dog who took a deep and satisfying nap after eating a four-foot bull penis, and then came home and napped the nap of the dog who had played in the park and then ate a four-foot bull penis and then chased birds at the beach and who had never napped before and was making up for lost time.
Bedtime is always an adventure of a routine for all the pets, because at bedtime we feed the cats a can of wet food divided between them, and then we offer the dogs the can (and a decoy can) to lick clean.
“It’s Crommy’s birthday!” we said. “We should give him a real treat!”
“We should give him a cake!” K said, and you have never seen a prettier cake fashioned of an entire can of cat food, with a candle right in the center, and a can with some scraps to distract Woody.
“Feliz Crompleanos!” we sang, and looked askance at the candle, but we blew it out for him, and then he sniffed his cake, looked at Woody going to town on his can, and seemed to feel he had gotten the bad side of the deal.
“Eat your cake!” we urged, and he sniffed it again, and then delicately lifted the entire patty of cat food off the plate and in a single breath hoovered it into the black hole of his head. And then he was mad, because Woody was still working away at the empty can that this patty had come out of.
We fed him a Pepto Bismol, because we realized that this was probably not the happiest day his digestion ever encountered, and then he was ready to play his customary game of bedtime tug as if he had not spent the day eating questionable things.
He is nine years old now, and so grey, though fast as ever after the birds who mock him, excited as ever about a slide, as stubborn as ever about the excellent ideas he has, as loud as ever when he snores, with the silkiest ears and the worst farts in the world. He’s my little monster-brat baby and nine is too old for him to be, because he needs far more time to be terrible and sweet and ridiculous and whiny. It’s never enough time.