I was exhausted when I woke up on Monday. The museum had a record attendance over the weekend, and the satellite store, where I worked, was unbelievably busy.
As Mr F works a regular 9-5 week, I spend Mondays “home alone”, so I decided to relax for a few hours with the Sunday New York Times. I made myself some toast with homemade strawberry jam, a pot of strong tea, and went upstairs for a quick check of my email. I had just switched on the computer when I heard Temba, our black Standard Poodle, coming up the stairs.
[In case you don’t know them, the standard poodle is the largest of the poodles. They are highly intelligent, proud, graceful, calmer than the smaller varieties of poodle, good with kids, don’t shed or smell of dog, and we think they are the *best* breed ever. Temba is our second standard poodle.]
“Good morning my boy, did you come up to tell me about the lovely clean carpets?” I asked him. Mr F rented a carpet cleaner on the weekend, and thoroughly vacuumed and shampooed the carpets, including all the stairs. A huge job.
No, he didn’t care about the carpets, he wanted to go outside. It’s remarkable how our clever dog communicates without words or barking, just body language. When he wants to go for a walk, he’ll sit close to you, with a straight back like a yoga guru, and silently, patiently look away towards the door until you notice him.
“I’ll be happy to take you for your walk, but I’m really tired today.” I said, “I worked damn hard over the weekend, and to be perfectly honest I don’t have the energy to get up off this chair, so I’m going to take it nice and easy this morning. You know I love you, but you’ll have to wait awhile. Okay?”
He looked at me, sighed, walked out the room, and began dry heaving in the passage.
“Oh god, Temba that’s not fair,” I leaped up, grabbed his collar, and led him down the stairs. When we reached the dining room he stopped, looked at me with a pitiful expression, opened his mouth, and a stream of yellow bile poured out onto the pale blue carpet.
“Ohmygod Temba, what’s wrong? Do you need to go to the vet? Come, let’s go!” But he refused to move.
Even though I called him every sweet name I could think of, he wouldn’t budge.
“You’re barfing on the nice clean carpet. Your Dad’s not going to be pleased! Come let’s go. Help! Emergency!” I yelled, but no one was home to help me, and at 60 lbs he was too heavy to carry down the last flight of stairs.
I had to find something to catch the vomit. I ran into the kitchen, grabbed the only thing vaguely suitable, a large red bucket, which I placed on the carpet under his mouth.
My clever boy took one look at the bucket, his ears went right back (like a scared horse’s), the whites of his eyes bulged out the sockets, and before I could stop him, he bolted all the way up the stairs, to leave another yellow stream on the pale blue carpet outside my bedroom. And once more refused to move.
I tried everything I could think of: I patted him, I pulled, I prodded, I pleaded, and finally out of desperation I sang to him: “Come-sweetheart-come-nice-doggie…” Slowly, slowly, one step at a time, ears still back, eyes still wild he inched his way down the three flights of stairs accompanied by my loving song of encouragement, and a firm grip on his collar lest he run off again.
When we reached the living room it took me some time, with only one free hand, to find the cord to pull up the blinds, bend down to unlock the door, and finally to slide open the heavy glass door to the patio, so he hesitated in the doorway, confused, not sure what he was supposed to do.
“Go on, go outside!” I said irritably. I’d had enough of this. It was supposed to be “a relaxing read the paper morning,” and so far I’d only had one sip of my tea, not even a bite of my toast, and I hadn’t even looked at the paper.
Our Prince of Dogs didn’t like my tone of voice. He ran back inside, up the stairs all the way to the dining room, where he looked down at me through the railing.
I had to sing again, “Come-nice-doggie-come-my-sweet-boy…” to get him to slowly walk back down, one-step-at-a-time.
When he was safely outside on the patio, I patted him, told him what a good boy he was, then ran an under-a-minute-marathon up the stairs to throw on some clothes, (not sure where I got the energy), quick back down the stairs to grab the leash, attach it to his collar, but at the front door I discovered he’d left me a gift: a huge mound of vomit lay on the carpet at the door.
After I’d made sure to lead him outside, he came back into the house to vomit?
“Oh please, it’s enough now!” I told him, but he looked so miserable and ashamed, and before he decided to run back up the stairs I sang, “Okaaayyii! Good boy. We’ll walk first, and clean up later.”
We walked for almost an hour, and he made two large, runny, kaka-pooh-poohs (I knew you’d want to know). You could see he felt better when we returned. He ran happily ahead of me, tail straight up, stepped into the vomit at the door, tracked a yellow brick road up the stairs through the dining room, to his dish in the kitchen, then back into the vomit once more on his way to stand at the front of the sliding glass door where he barked at the mailman who was passing, before crossing the living room carpet to go back up to the kitchen for a drink of water.
I didn’t phone Mr F. I let doggie tell him. I was at a yoga class that evening when he came home from work.