Years ago, I worked with a gym teacher. She was the mother of two teenagers who kept bringing home stray animals, and she'd inevitably end up being the one to look after these new family members for the rest of their natural lives. One morning, she told me she was really looking forward to when all the pets finally died.
At the time, I just had Rusty and Jerome and I loved them like they were my own children. So, while I found this statement funny, I also found it horrifying. But these days I can kind of see where she was coming from.
The Captain and I took the dogs to the vet last week. Usually I have to do this job on my own, or wait until my parents are coming for a visit so I have an extra pair of hands to help. I have to schedule the trip for when both kids are at school or can be babysat. With two large, boisterous dogs, it can be quite a job. The last time I left Jerome, my overzealous border collie, alone in the car while Rusty reluctantly got her shots (bringing them in together usually results in a lot of barking, fussing and excitedly competing for the vet's attention that just isn't worth the trouble), he got so excited, he completely chewed up Rosemary's Baby's car seat cover. Luckily, the baby wasn't in it at the time.
So, it was quite a luxury to have the Captain around to sit in the car with the spare dog this time. It didn't curb anyone's natural canine zest for life, but at least I knew that when I got back, the car would still be there.
As it turns out, my dogs are exceptionally healthy. If things go on like this, Jerome may make the Guiness Book of World Records for oldest living dog. And really, of course, that's great news. He's a big ball of undiluted joy, he keeps me safe when the Captain's away, and my life wouldn't be quite right without him. But when he's chasing his tail while the vet wants to stick his back end with a needle, and Rusty is in the car getting up to goodness-knows-what, you can't help but imagine how much easier this would be with just one dog.
Bathing them is kind of the same thing. One of them is trapped with me in the bathroom getting the dreaded lathering, while the other races around the house barking, knowing something terribly unusual is going on in there and wanting to announce it to the world. I actually look forward to summer because I can do that miserable chore on the front lawn with the garden hose and then just let them run around shaking themselves off afterwards. But we're not quite there yet in Manitoba, so I've been putting it off. And when I apologized for their stinkiness last week, the vet, who had already shown amazement that I brush my dogs' teeth and clean out their ears regularly, reminded me again that he wasn't our garden-variety city vet, clipping the nails of poodles and treating hairless cats with organic skin tonics.
"Aw, that's okay. I just had my arm up the back of a cow all morning."
So, we're hopefully done with the vet visit for another shuddersome year. Jerome should live to be about a hundred, and we need to keep an eye on Rusty's broken tooth for signs of pain, but otherwise, it looks like I'm stuck with them for a few years more.
I guess I can handle that.