The all-to-familiar sound pulls me out of sleep once again. Half cry, half bark, light and airy from a parched throat of yelling at the wall night after night. I feel like a new parent, sleepless, waking throughout the night to care for a new soul. This one is old though. Dementia reaping havoc in the brain of my 14 year old labrador named Freedom, now held captive by his ailing mind. I don’t know if its the need for sleep or anger that my best friend is dying, but i feel frustrated and throw my covers off with a huff, leaving the warm confines of my cozy sanctuary for the seventh time this particular night. I jump into my chair awkwardly, muscles and coordination just as groggy as i am, still careful not to injure myself at all. One false move can be disastrous. I position my legs and proceed, through the darkness, towards the sound that woke me. I feel something wet on my hand but think nothing of it. Just slobber probably, a frequent occurrence in the home of a labrador. When i get to him, i reach down and caress his silky black fur, performing what little comforting i can, feeling somewhat powerless. “Its ok, Buddy. I’m right here.” I open the door to offer him an escape, if he needs to go out. He doesn’t. I offer him water. He’s not thirsty. I give him a treat and that seems to help. A little rough petting to pull him out of whatever dimension he is in and i make my way back to bed, embracing the silence and delighting in it. Sleep comes back quickly.
In the morning, i awake feeling rested. He usually sleeps solid through the morning hours, 4am til whenever i let him. The thought of coffee pulls me out of bed after i scroll through Instagram for a little while, liking photos of friends adventures and girls butts. I smell something. Its not pleasant. Smells like shit. I look up, down the short corridor that leads to the door, and see a pile of dog shit. My first thought, “Ah poor boy! He must be embarrassed.” I feel badly for my sweet old labrador. I know how he hates to disappoint me. Do i make coffee first or clean it up first? I decide on the latter, leaving the smelly pile for later. I need my coffee in the morning and that is priority. I usually take the time to french press myself a nice craft of aromatic freshly crushed bean stained water, soaked for ten whole minutes, deliciously strong and smooth. I want coffee immediately though, so i use my single dripper to make a cup fast. This way, i can sip it while i’m waiting for the grounds to soak. Yeah, i know, i have a problem.
On my way to the kitchen, i notice dark streaks on the floor though. “They are all over! What the heck? What’s this from?” I must’ve tracked a bunch of dirt in. But how? I didn’t go outside. Then the realization hits me. “Oh shit!” Literally. Sure enough, a definitive wheel mark lain right through the middle of the brown pile on the floor, now cold from sitting all night, and i had tracked it all over my apartment. “Wait! The wet feeling on my hand last night!” Again, the realization proved true. There was dog shit on my hand. Not the worst thing that has ever happened, any parent who has changed a diaper would agree, but apparently, during my sleep i must’ve rubbed my face, a fairly reasonable and regular occurrence for anyone and, yes, upon further inspection, the shit smeared across my face as well, a mosaic streaking across my floor continuing over my right cheek.
Where do i start? I guess my hands and my face first, shaking my head in disbelief as i clean. Then my chair, which proves to be quite the task, wet wipes tearing as i scrub, barely reaching the tiny little crevices of my front wheels as i hold a precarious wheelie in the bathroom. All without coffee, mind you, and grey wet streaks get left everywhere i go now from my damp wheels. Then the pile on the floor, using way too many paper towels. How do i carry the pile of wet crap to the trash? I need to set it down and grab a towel to put on my lap so i can escort it to the outside trash cans, but when i do, little flakes drop out and sprinkle the floor like fresh chocolate shavings from your favorite donut shop. This takes a vacuum to remedy. Now i'm vacuuming at 6:18am without having had my coffee yet, wrestling with the cord as it wraps around my wheels. Freedom is annoyed with the sound and we have words about how i'm cleaning HIS mess and he needs to calm down. Then a wet cloth to the entire floor, and another, with intentions of steaming later, but i need my coffee first…and i need to wipe my dog’s butt.