“Hello Old Man,” the vet whispered into Minute’s furry little ear. Then he leaned down and listened to his furry little heart.
“How old is he?” he asked.
“He’ll be thirteen in October,” I said.
“Oh. Yeah. You’re getting old little fella. You got a heart murmur now.”
I picked Minute up off the table and cuddled him. No sweat. Just another story to add to the seemingly infinite list. You see, the thing about Minute is, there are lots of things about Minute.
I adopted him from a sweet lady who couldn’t take him to her apartment so she was going to take him to the shelter. I wasn’t worried about a dog like Minute surviving in lock up. Sure he was little, but he’d survived worse. He only had one working eye and one or two working teeth, wounds he earned from a scrapping fight in puppy-hood. If another dog came sniffing around Minute wasn’t shy about trying to bite off his nose. Plus he always smelled like a mixture of stale cigarettes and Doritos, an appealing scent for any jailhouse mutt. I knew he could cut it in the shelter. I just didn’t want him to have to cut it in the shelter.
So I brought him home, carried him inside, and sat all nine pounds of him down on the kitchen floor.
“What is that?” Brian asked.
“That’s Minute.”
“We aren’t keeping him are we?”
The thing is, I was constantly bringing home something and finding a home for it somewhere. I’m sure I could’ve found someone to take him. But I wanted to be the someone to take him. So he stayed.
Mostly he lazed around, drank water, nibbled food, and peed out giant truckloads of urine, unleashing a whole-day’s stream on a single unsuspecting shrub. Then he sauntered back inside and laid down again. He didn’t bark. He didn’t jump. He didn’t do much of anything.
We figured he needed more action, so we took him to a dog beach. I carried him into the water and then carried him back out. His head flopped awkwardly over my arm and his tongue hung out.
“That doggy is dead,” a little girl pointed and shrieked.
I decided he needed some exercise, so I tricked him into taking a daily walk around the block, bribing him with a chunk of ham every so many steps. About half way around he refused to go any further, regardless of the ham dangling in mid-air. He plopped down on the side walk and the only way he went home was in my arms.
Then one day he jumped. He was sitting there at my feet and all of a sudden he took a flying leap and landed on the couch beside me.
“Holy crap. Did he just jump?” Brian asked.
We both stared at him while he gave us a smirk that seemed to say, “Suck it.”
That day Minute came to life. Sure he still laid around most of the time, but that jump was his way of telling us to take notice. Over the next few years he found the best ways to remind us we needed to pay attention.
Like the time I walked into my closet and sniffed the faint scent of fresh crap. I inspected the carpet but couldn’t find anything. That is until a few months later when hot weather hit. I pulled out my summery shoes and strategically placed in my favorite pair of heels was Minute’s petrified turd.
He came with us to visit a friend in Key West. We were staying on a houseboat and Minute, not wanting to be left behind when we left for dinner, decided to make a break for the front door. Unfortunately he landed in the Gulf with a giant splash. Fortunately our friend with quick reflexes rescued him as soon as he kurplunked off the deck.
Storm season in Florida can get pretty tough and the thunder and wind caused Minute severe anxiety. I came home from work after a particularly nasty storm and heard faint barking. When I figured out he closed himself in the bathroom I opened the door and there he was. Sitting in the toilet. He was doused in the electric blue of 2000 Flushes and it took months before he turned back to his typical shade of brown.
Minute’s fear of storms also meant when it stormed at night he slept with us. A better description would be he paced around on our bed, shook violently and panted his face off, belting us with hot stanky breath for the duration of the storm. He also tried to climb to safety, which usually meant he crept up my pillow and laid on my head.
One nasty stormy night I must have managed to fall asleep in spite of the panting, shaking, and breath-stinking nightmare, but was rudely awoken by Minute cramming his furry little paw right down my throat in a desperate attempt to find higher ground. I can still remember choking and sputtering and then laughing myself into hysterics when I figured out the cause.
Minute’s stories flashed through my mind while I held him in the veterinarian’s office and I started thinking about the day when he won’t be around to get our attention anymore. There will be a day when all of those memories are all that will be left of his life. So go ahead old man. Step in my mouth. Crap in my shoe. I promise I won’t mind in the slightest.