People I didn’t expect to be

Hello! The husband and I and some friends went out to see a concert last night and this morning I feel positively hungover even though I didn’t drink. It’s the staying up late during the week, you see. I am old. Plus the concert venue was one without seating, which meant we stood for a zillion hours (okay, maybe three?) and did I mention I am old and my usual location is sitting at a computer? Because that. Also my hair smells like flavored vape smoke and you kids should get off my lawn. Anyway. Hold that thought.

First I thought I’d update you on the current state of elderly dog-ness in our home, because the dogs are way more entertaining than I am. So! Despite Duncan’s death sentence back in October, I am pleased to report he is still with us. He’s not magically cured, or anything, but he is still alive, and still gives me kisses if I ask, and leans into you if you’re rubbing his ears, so we’re calling it a win for now. The amazing undead doggo continues his undeadness! We think he is super talented and also possibly a minor demon, but no matter. When I want to wring his furry little neck, I remind myself that he is MAGICAL and ALIVE and that’s all that matters. Of course, I have to make those reminders to myself quite a bit, for various disgusting reasons.

Don’t get me wrong; we are grateful for the extra time with him. But. I mean, okay, NO BIG DEAL, but… Duncan has become very, very leaky. He sleeps about 22 hours of the day, and the other two hours, it seems, are spent: 1) slurping up water and then horking it up in various locations throughout the house, 2) peeing any damn place he feels like but only OUTSIDE the house if you pick him up and place him on his favorite patch of peeing grass (which I assure you we do 10 times a day and yet somehow it is not enough), and 3) stealth pooping in my office for reasons which are still not clear.

If this was Licorice, I would suspect malice. Er, maybe malice isn’t the right word. Grudge-holding? Revenge? Licorice’s little walnut brain is complex enough to do something wrong because she knows it’s wrong and she’s pissed at us. But Duncan’s little walnut brain is filled only with love of naps and bacon, and I think he’s just… confused. His back legs no longer work very well and walking outside is a long trek and being carried is not exactly his favorite and I think the urge strikes and… there ya go. I’m trying not to hold it against him.

So I bought some belly bands for him to wear in the evening (these are male dog diapers, for the unfamiliar), because that’s when most of this happens, but there are multiple reasons why this didn’t solve much. First of all, belly bands have no effect on the water-horking or the stealth pooping. Second, he hates them. HAAAAAAAATES them. I suspect (even though I measured!) they are just a leeetle bit too small to be comfortable, or maybe due to the pressure on his lungs just nothing wrapped around him like that will be comfortable. Also due to the aforementioned back legs issue the band kind of makes that worse, because it impedes his hips, some. And finally, belly bands are garbage. He lies down on the couch and the velcro gets stuck to a cushion and then he can’t get up again, or he gets up by wiggling out of the belly band. So helpful! Chickadee modified one of the bands to cover the extra velcro and extend the strap to see if that would make him more comfortable, but all it did was make it easier for him to Houdini his way out of it. And as soon as he does? He pees on the floor.

I finally caved and bought some girl-style diapers for him (more coverage, harder to remove, less pressure on his hips). I measured him and ordered the size the website said I needed. Wrong size! I am now awaiting the new ones. (HOLY CRAP THIS IS A LOT OF WORDS ABOUT DOG DIAPERS, I AM SORRY.) Also I already know that the part where we have to loop his tail through the hole in the back makes him very angry, and also I am worried about what happens if he’s wearing one of those and tries stealth pooping because ewwww. But we’ll try it.

[Sidebar: The single silver lining to this whole diaper saga is that you can buy doggie diapers in PRINTS. I bought cactus-print diapers for Duncan because they seemed most appropriate.]

Aside from the old/senile/whatever situation we have going on, his pulmonary hypertension is definitely getting worse again. So whatever annoyance we experience each day as we mop up puddles is tempered by the knowledge that—jokes about his amazing immortal status aside—he is likely not going to be with us much longer and this is a small price to pay for more time with our pup. Sigh.

I became the person who diapers her dog and tries to feel gratitude about it. That was… unexpected.

Meanwhile, her highness Licorice is also slowing down, and lately has been unable to get up on our bed without a couple of tries. (The missed attempts are very Wile E. Coyote in their failure style and I would love to tell you we don’t laugh at her but I don’t wanna lie.) Apparently she can’t manage the jump in either of the kids’ rooms, either, so they’ve both built her graduated paths up to the bed top (a beanbag chair in Monkey’s room, an actual set of impromptu box steps in Chickadee’s). I proclaimed this to be absolutely ridiculous right up until I rearranged our furniture a bit so that she can now hop up onto an ottoman near the far corner of the bed and then easily make the hop from ottoman to bed.

Which means I am also the person who builds assistive devices for her old dog, which, granted, would’ve seemed more plausible to me than the diaper thing, but still.

Switching gears for a minute: I want to tell you about this concert we went to. Mostly because there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, that makes me feel as old as going to a live music event that’s standing room only. There were kids dancing non-stop and I’m there leaning on Otto thinking “My feet hurt. Did these boots used to be more comfortable? Should I have chosen different shoes? Will I get stepped on if I just sit on the floor for a little bit?” Etc. Add that to the fact that the opening act was sweet and calm and then the main band came out and suddenly the volume was turned up to 11 and there were flashing lights everywhere (“someone could have an actual seizure from this” whispered my mom-brain), and I was definitely stuck between hey-this-is-actually-super-fun and dear-lord-I-am-too-old-for-this.

Anyway, our little group got there earlyish and staked out an area on one of the edges, by a wall. Periodically people would wander over our way because the sight lines make it kind of hard to see if anyone is there until you’re pretty close, so people would walk up—clearly with the same intentions we had (get a spot where we can see but be out of the press of the crowd)—see we were there, and retreat. That was fine. It slowed down once the show started and we were busy enjoying the music.

Then at some point I happened to turn around and saw that a guy was standing right behind us. Just one guy. Looking rather sullen, which was weird, because this was definitely a feel-good show. Ooooo…kay? Whatever. A few songs went by. Then a woman came up to him and they started talking, loudly, and then she flounced off after about 15 seconds. “She never listens!” he announced to… I don’t even know who. Us, maybe? Otto and I exchanged a look. The show went on.

The next time I turned around, Mystery Man was gone. Good.

A little later both of them came back, and began discussing… whether or not he should take a loan from his parents, I think. Mystery Woman proclaimed that they were adults and this was not something they could do! And Mystery Man insisted he wasn’t going to. Which seemed like it should’ve been the end of it, but no, they kept going. And believe me when I tell you this concert was LOUD so the volume of their conversation—for us to be able to hear it plainly—was nuts. They were literally standing in the middle of a concert screaming at each other about their personal business. As one does?

Finally I couldn’t take it anymore, and in my head I planned to calmly turn to them and ask them to step outside if they wanted to keep talking. That’s what I should’ve done. Instead what happened was that I whipped around and barked, “HI! WE PAID MONEY TO HEAR THE BAND SING, NOT YOU!” Whoops! The woman immediately started apologizing. I nodded, thanked her, and turned back around. And then I heard her say, with some petulance, “We didn’t pay that much to see this.”

Of everything this couple did and we endured last night, it’s that line that makes me feel immeasurable rage. If the tickets were cheap, then I should have to listen to a stranger drunkenly insisting he had everything under control instead of the band I paid to see? And I should take a measure of cheap from a couple who clearly can’t manage their money? (Honey, maybe you can’t afford the tickets to this gig if you’re arguing over needing a loan. Just sayin’.) I… just… ugh. I hate people. But also I did not want to be the sort of person who snaps at people like that.

We’d never seen this band before, but had a good enough time that we bought t-shirts, and I didn’t even beat that couple to death with mine when we passed them on the way out. They were standing in the stairwell, still arguing. I think we had a much better night than they did.

Of course today I feel like I was run over by a truck, because staying up til midnight! In the middle of the week! MADNESS! But I’m drinking extra coffee and trying to get as much done as I can before I have to follow Duncan around the house tonight to diaper and re-diaper him and clean up… whatever.

Don’t be jealous of my glamorous life, yo.


  1. Chuck Mann

    Ah yes, good old standing room only. I think I did that for U2 a couple of years ago. It was a great concert so it was worth it, even though my lower back was sore the next day. The joys of middle age.

    Sorry to hear about Duncan, I think it’s awesome how devoted you are to his care and enjoying time with him though.

  2. heidi

    I became a person who bought my aged dog STAIRS to get on our bed. I still miss him.

  3. Niki

    About a year ago, our dog had a partial tear to his CCL, and our goal was to keep him calm and from jumping, but he still wanted to be on the couch, and as he weighs 60 lbs, it’s not as easy as picking him up every time he wants up. We bought him little stairs on Amazon (an out of box return, thank you very much), but he refused to learn to use them (and he’s super smart). We gave up and eventually put them away. A few weeks ago he tore his meniscus and we tried again, and nope – he would rather jump in pain (despite the vet telling him he would need surgery if he tore that CCL – he’s smart but a bad listener) than deign to use stairs.

    Also concerts – we are refusing to go to the stand up kind unless we can get seats. We are too old for that crap. And a few years ago, we paid big money to go see Mellencamp 2.5 hours away. The couple behind us obviously started their drinking before the show, then continued throughout. They talked loudly through the first half of the show, despite many glares and shushings. During the second half, my usually calm and quiet husband had has enough, and turned around and told the guy (the loudest of the two) that he needed to shut the F up. The guy got belligerent and acted like he wanted a fight, and I swear that hubby would actually have punched him (which I’ve never seen), but the woman grabbed the guy and got him to sit down. They stayed quieter almost through the end, then right before it was over, they were dancing near the aisle, he stumbled and spilled beer on me, stained my brand new shoes, and I got to ride 2.5 hours home smelling like cheap beer.

  4. Jeanie

    It put a lump in my throat to hear about Duncan. Licorice, too, but especially Duncan. I love the way you’re caring for them both.

    Glad you (mostly) enjoyed the concert. My concert days were over years ago.

  5. Katee

    Well, I’ve become the person who administers sub-q saline to a 17 year old cat, rubs appetite stimulant gel into her ears, administers hyperthyroid pills twice a day and follows her around with a bowl of the (thank gawd finally!) acceptable pate renal food. This cat is the most expensive animal I have owned when we add up her “adventures” over her life time. Broken leg, unexplainable fever, fight with another household cat that resulted in shaved rear with drainage tubes and stint in my ensuite as a hospital room.

    But she’s part of the family and outlived my marriage and her original owner moving out and becoming an adult. If she were in pain or had cancer that would be different. I just think of her as a 103 year old skinny new york city old lady. She’s ended up having her own room to sleep in as she’s now deaf and the 5 year old cat, size of dog, thinks she’s a kitten and wants to play. And unlike my 91 year old mother she doesn’t tell everyone I’m the bossy daughter

    • Jessica (tc)

      This is a weird reply, but what renal pate did your cat go for? We’re still trying to find one for our senior kitty, because she’s ludicrously picky about her food…

      Also, we finally opted out of chasing her around for the ridiculously tiny (pink?) hyperthyroid pills twice a day and did the Iodine-131 treatment (95% cure rate on first treatment), even though that meant a trip 5 hours away. She was beginning to hate us and avoid us because of the pills, which made us feel like her quality of life was being affected too much. :(

      • Katee

        No worries. It’s the Hills Renal and Hills Urgent Care as we try to fatten her back up. Also use it an ear gel appetite stimulate to jump start her.

        The thyroid pills are the easy part. Ask the vet for a “pill plunger” tool. It’s Like a plastic syringe with a silicone gripper end. Pop the pill in it. Have cat on a from, not slippery surface like a bed, with its back towards you. Grasp the cat by the jaws. Open mouth. Quickly insert the piller right to the back of the throat and plunge. Took longer to write this than to do it.

        Sub q is another story. Took two people, pair of leather work gloves and trip to the doc for a tetanus update. I’ll pill or trim nails any day.

        • Jessica (tc)

          I know sub-q is in our future, and we already had an example of it at the vet once and our cat seemed okay with (we, however, were not). We were using a pilling tool, but it didn’t help: the I-131 was a lifesaver for our overly anxious cat and cured her hyperthyroidism for good. I’m going to check with our vet about that food to see if our cat will (finally) eat something with renal formula! Thank you!

  6. Lori O

    I have so much to say! First, I must be older than you, because, well, because I was born before you ;-), but also because I just wouldn’t have gone. A CONCERT WITHOUT SEATS? Madness.

    Second, when our not-that-old-but-very-sick dog was near the end, we opened up the trundle bed in my daughter’s room to allow him a way to get up on her bed, even though that meant that there was essentially no floor in her room and we had to walk on the bed as if it were a floor for close to a month. (I still miss that dog.)

    Third, I hate people too. Except you.

  7. Mary K. in Rockport

    I was going to suggest a diaper, then you wrote about it. Back when our last dog was very elderly, Pampers had just been invented, and didn’t have elastic legs or anything fancy. I found that a Pampers fit around him quite nicely, and the whole shebang was held together with a dog sweater that had back legs as well as front legs. I can’t help with the pooping problem!

  8. Philippa Connell

    I have been too old for standing room only concerts since I was a child. I do not like to stand. It makes my feet ouchy.

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