We left Pothole and The Prude yesterday as The Prude held out a doggie snack just out of reach in an entreating fashion to bribe arthritic Pothole up 2 painful steps into the house.
“Follow me inside," she begged, "and you get this lovely-“
A second later the Prude was looking at fingers empty of anything but a line of doggie drool, while Pothole delicately licked the last crumbs of the treat off his lips.
His stubby neck had extended from his shoulder blades in a manner learned from the finest of snapping turtles.
She was getting desperate. The beagle and the bichon were arguing in the back yard, and taking out their frustration on passing squirrels.
The Prude let them in, calling Pothole’s attention to the delights that his compatriots were experiencing indoors.
Pothole, with eyes of reproach, reminded her that he was an old dog.
A fragile dog.
Maybe she should carry him.
She got his front shoulders off the ground, but he would slump his head down onto the grass. It was dead weight.
She ran in and got his leash. After attaching it to his collar she pulled it taut and turned her face to the house.
It jerked backward in her hand. She turned to see Pothole. with a lazy gesture, had pinned the leash down to the ground. The Prude pulled again. Pothole twisted his head and the collar came off. He gave it a soft pat and took a nibble.
The Prude was distaught. She had laundry to do, food to cook, cobwebs to eliminate. She couldn’t spend the next 6 hours waiting for her menfolk to come home and hoist the dog. She couldn’t leave the pitiful Pothole lying in the front yard. The SPCA would close down the neightborhood.
“Would it help if I cried?” she asked Pothole.
Pothole was of that bygone generation who respected the tears of a woman, or at least avoided them at all costs. He heaved himself up and wobbled to the house grunting and groaning, but eventually, lubricated with The Prude's tears, he bravely made his way into the house, ignoring the pain that wracked his old body.
The Prude was triumphant.
In a burst of goodwill she decided to clean up the potpie
he’d deposited in the front.
She pranced to the backyard on the wings of the morning, got the pooper-scooper and took care of the poo. She went into the neighbor’s house to deposit the poo in the toilet. The beagle and the bichon greeted her as a dearly missed friend. But where was Pothole?
The Prude’s heart constricted.
Had it been too much for him? Was he in a corner, slipping the surly bonds of earth?
Something caught the upper right corner of her peripeheral vision.
Up a flight of 10 steps, looking down at her from the landing and laughing gently, was Pothole.