Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Song for September

A little companion story and song for my September post:

In the few weeks before he died, Frodo was having trouble getting up and down the back stairs on the deck to go to the bathroom in the grass.  Unlike some dogs, Frodo always, only, went to the bathroom on the grass, with the sole exception being when it snowed and he decided that a snow-covered deck was no different than snow-covered grass.  So, I started carrying him down there much of the time, but I knew he didn't love it.  Already he had to be carried up to the bed, when just weeks before he could spring up there with the energy of first-grader.  My first plan to solve this problem was to build a ramp, or rather, have my very talented father come up and build a ramp.  I went so far as to take measurements and do geometry, but ultimately decided the project was too involved for something I wasn't sure he would even use; he was a creature of habit and an attempt years ago, during his back injury days, to coax him to walk up those little stairs you can get at Walgreens was met with a blank doggie stare.

Then I had a flash of brilliance. If he couldn't come down to the grass, I'd make the grass come to him.  After a ridiculous attempt to buy sod at Lowe's, where they not only don't carry it, but the garden center clerk didn't even know what it was (Me: "Do you have rolls of sod?" Garden Center Clerk: "Huh. Sod. I don't think so. Maybe. I'm not sure. What is sod anyway? Maybe I should call and ask?" Me: "Yeah, why don't you do that."), I went to a local nursery where you can buy a six foot roll of sod for the utterly reasonable price of five dollars.
After getting it home and lugging it inside (six feet of sod is heavy), I cut it in half (tip: regular scissors will indeed cut through sod!) and laid it out on the back deck.  And suddenly I had a lovely little patch of grass for Frodo to do his business, right out the back door. 

Convincing him to use it was another story.  At first he found it to be a delightful place to lay in the sun, which was just fine with me, though it meant I was still carrying him down the steps.  I was afraid I'd have to sod the entire back deck, in order for him to have the proper square footage to pee and poop and sun. Eventually he began to use it occasionally for its intended purpose, though he never full bought into the notion of the sod patch as a replacement for his precious backyard kingdom, a place where his beagle nose sniffed out all the goings on of the neighborhood cats and squirrels. But the chance to give him a little joy on that little patch of grass was the best five dollars I ever spent.

The sod started to turn brown in his last days.  That's not some sort of metaphor; apparently sod on a deck still needs to be watered.

In the spirit of that little patch of grass, I wanted to post this song. As usual, James Taylor delivers.

"Well, the sun's not so hot in the sky today
And you know I can see summertime slipping on away
A few more geese are gone, a few more leaves turning red
But the grass is as soft as a feather in a featherbed
So I'll be king and you'll be queen
Our kingdom's gonna be this little patch of green
Won't you lie down here right now
In this September grass
Won't you lie down with me now
September grass
Oh the memory is like the sweetest pain..."

It’ll be September all year

When Frodo first got sick back in late June or July, I had a thought that I don't think I ever spoke out loud, because I couldn't fathom it wouldn't be true. "Just make it through to your month, Mr. September."  You see, Frodo had the honor of having one of his adorable photos from Tails Pet Photography featured in the 2013 Barkstown Road calendar and silly as it sounds, all year I'd been looking forward to turning the page over to "his" month.  Mark and I always said he should be famous; he had the personality and looks of a star. 

So much so that when Mark and I were at the vet with him that day, that very early morning, making that awful decision we knew was the right one, we sat beside him and did one of our favorite activities: listing all his good “features,” as well called them, his physical attributes we never got tired of pointing out, features that had become so dear to us, many with nicknames of their own. His soft and floppy ears, the racing stripe down his forehead, the way his eyes matched his eyelashes which matched his orange fur. His pink tongue. The black lining around his eyes we called his “permanent make-up.” The two little spots under his soft, floppy ears. His wet, black nose, seemingly made out of the same material as his rough, black pads. His “seam,” the place where his fur converged under his belly as if he’d been sewn together.  The "fringe" of fur on his hind legs. His striped toenails. The little tufts of iridescent fur between his toes.  The perfect white tip at the end of his tail.  He had so many good features, and so we went on and on and on, naming these features in the shorthand we'd come to know so well. It was a beautiful moment of the two of us saying goodbye to this amazing creature who we loved more than we thought possible.