Max was out of antibiotics for his Lyme disease treatment so I drove to the vet and found it closed. Being in an affluent area of lower Bucks, there were no less than five places within 15 minutes with “pet care” or “veterinary” in their name and I drove to the closest which was about 6/10ths of a mile away.

They didn’t have any prescription medication but the store attendant recommended I contact CVS who sometimes allowed one to get emergency tablets. So I called.

Me: I’m looking to get two doxycycline tablets for my dog.
Them: What’s the name?
Me: Of me or the dog?
Them: You.
Me: Terry Robinson.
Them: Weight?
Me: of me?
Them: The dog.
Me: 86 lbs.
Them: Would it be under another name?
Me: His name is Max but he, being a dog, rarely visits CVS.
Them: We can’t help you then if we’ve not filled the prescription before.
Me: I just need two tablets to tide him over until tomorrow.
Them: We don’t have dosage instructions.
Me: That’s on the bottle. Two 100mg twice a day.
Them: That’s not enough.
Me: They antibiotics and I don’t want to miss a treatment and create some super strain like the TB that comes out of Russian prisons. I just want two. It’s not like he’s on oxycontin and I’m going to grind these up and snort them off of a mirror or resell them to school kids.
Them: We can’t help. I’m sorry.
Me: When Super Lyme hits, you will be. Watch for ticks.

I next called another vet and they gave me two tablets after I gave them the info of the prescribing doctor and telling them my dog was brown. I’m not sure why that fact was included, but it seemed important.

I woke to a thudding noise that filled me with horror. Max was repeatedly standing up, walking a few steps, and then falling over. His incontinence had continued and after a few falls he laid back down on his sleeping mat. My father and I took him to the Langhorne Animal Hospital and in his weakened state I had to to lift him into the car, then into the hospital, then into the examination room. Some initial diagnostics suggested that he had a case of Lyme Disease that had blown out under his prednisone-weakened immune system. When done and while my father was attending to paperwork, I saw a family with a small girl walk into the hospital. The girl held a drawing in her hand that said “GET WELL SOON” and she said to her parents “I made Mittens a picture”.

My father was shaken by Max’s time in the hospital. He couldn’t physically move Max in the same way I could and I was also keeping track of Max’s medication. This has reminded my dad of his own limits but also reminded him that there are others. I’ve found the compassion required to care for this 82 lb dumb mass of incontinent, quivering, yet loving fur to be effortless and to tap into my “this is right” well that rarely gets touched. I hope I am equally able to draw from this well should the people around me one day need me to clean up after then, take care of their medication, and lead them through a medical structure where they have no idea what’s going on.

A byproduct of Max’s medication is that he drinks a lot more. He’s not quite fast enough to go outside when he needs to pee so our kitchen has been graced with various patches of doggy tinkle. Sometimes the patches were in the living room or dining room but never on a portion with a rug or carpet. Good dog.

I took today to pound out Chris Sollars’ nee Lutz’s wedding photos and experienced a rare drive to finish them. I did three passes and realized I didn’t know who some people were. I called Chris, not there. I called Stephen, not there. I cried a little. I very strongly wanting this chore off my to do list. Stephen called back, hooray! During his lunch break, he walked me through who each person was. This doesn’t seem too impressive until I realized he was doing this over the phone as follows:

Me: Stephen, who’s the person next to your aunt in this picture?
Him: Is she wearing purple?
Me: Yes.
Him: That’s my aunt Gene.
Me: And on the other side.
Him: Is he making a stupid face?
Me: Yes.
Him: That’s Mark.

HIs memories of his wedding were clear enough to remember the order that people were standing during seven person group shots.

Max has had some itching problem for a bit that wasn’t responding to standard flea treatments so I took him to the vet. The vet was wearing rain boots and I wonder if this is experience or forethought. Max was diagnosed with Mange, which is like finding out that your kid has lice. He insisted it wasn’t something I did wrong but I felt a little responsible even though the red foxes around my house were probably to blame.

The vet put Max on a parasite treatment and gave him a shot of steroids followed by two prescriptions to help with the itching. Max didn’t flinch at the shot. Sometimes our pets are better people that we are.

My brother got a new dog creatively named “Rex”.  He is a mix of genetic party favors but appears to have a goodly streak of American Pitbull Terrier in him marked by the a wide smile I would call arrogant (the dog, not my brother).  Rex is young and when he came over our aged Max quickly tired of him.

Me: Can you tell your dog to stop mounting Max?
Ryan: Max started it.
Me: Max can barely make it up stairs let alone make an effective pass and literally screwing the pooch.  Please restrain your dog.
Ryan: You’re just jealous that my dog is better than your dog.
Me: You were the one that picked out Max in the first place.  So, sure, you’re better at picking out dogs than you are.
Ryan: That’s what I thought.

My Roomba has become the 3rd pet in our household after Max the dog and Sneakers the cat.  When he gets stuck on a stack of papers or pinned under furniture, the housemates know how to extract him, tap his clean button twice and have our robovacuum continue on his merry way.  The other pets have also welcomed it into their hearts by having coping strategies beyond merely scattering should it come within 10 feet of them as they did when the Roomba was first acquired.  The cat now blithely jumps to a higher surface and lets the Roomba go about its business.  Max knows that the edges of his bed are sufficiently that the Roomba is stopped by the plush barrier and retreats to it when he hears the Roomba’s whirring.

Today, Max was a bit more splayed out than usual and the Roomba kept hitting his extended paws.  Max would dutifully nudge over an inch, the Roomba would hit him again, and Max would rotate a bit more.  The Roomba got Max to do two full revolutions before Max found a pose where he was entirely within the confines of his dog bed.  The Roomba now had another role, dance partner.


Each time Max went outside yesterday he’d walk by the door of Matrix and just wait there a second before I tugged him along.  He’d pooped in a foreign land, there were strange dogs, and he wanted to go home.  He doesn’t ask much.  As I gathered up my things to depart Ventnor City and bid farewell to its denizens who I would miss Max raised his exhausted head from in front of the box fan that had made his day liveable and bounded for the door that he had previously bowled through.

He lay down in the back of my car, and didn’t much move for the entire trip, probably thinking that sticking close would reduce wind resistance and get him home faster.  We made record time as the roads were under capacity and Max sprang to activity upon seeing our mailbox.  He exited the car, popped, and went inside to lie down on his dog mat.  Normally, when someone arrives, Max greets them with a sock.  For the entire afternoon, every time the front door opened, Max just shifted his eyes back and forth as a miser guarding his gold while holding tight to his dog mat.

Max and I were invited by a friend to spend a weekend in Ventnor City and Max was initially quite excited to be in my car.  Max very much seems to enjoy going to new places and then pooping at them followed by going home.  He grinned through sliding over the plastic backs of my seats and being stopped on the AC expressway.

On arrival, Max leaped from the car, peed on a neighbor’s flowers and seemed very happy with himself.  He was excited to enter a new house until he found out there were other dogs there and his interest faded quickly.  Moose and Duke were the two dogs already present and between them they clock in at less than a 1/3 of Max’s weight.  Max was unconcerned with this calculus and chose to avoid them or at least tried in one case simply walking through a screen door to make his egress from their company.

As the day wore on, Max encountered some difficulties with the more complicated aspects of where he could and could not pee.  At home, his world is simple.  Thou shalt not pee inside, all other places whether they be the driveway, lawn, forest, flower bed, or vehicle tire are fair game and he was confused by the idea of a porch which was both outside and a place where he shouldn’t pee.  This confusion got to him and he eventually peed outside… on the porch… on my foot… and then other people’s feet… a total of four times.

The final act of the canine comedy of manners involved one of the dogs taking a tiny tinkle inside, followed by Max taking a larger tinkle over that tiny tinkle, followed by another dog remarking that spot, followed by Max proving his herd supremacy and simply flooding the carpet in that area.  I can now recite the directions on how to use Woolite PetSmart Stain release without looking at the bottle.

My father and I were sitting at our kitchen table, Max was laying on the floor.
Me: Have you noticed that Max doesn’t seem to do that thing where if you rub a dog’s belly, one of the legs starts going?
Dad: Of course he does.
*rubs standard dog-leg-whirl spot
Me: Don’t think he does.
Dad: Don’t worry, I’ll find it.
*minute of scratching Max’s belly*
Dad: Hm..
*few more minutes of scratching Max’s belly*

After five minutes of varied rubbing and scratching, Max’s leg didn’t move but I think Max was fine with us trying.

Skype video chat has proven to be the best proxy to keep track of distant people.  Its sound quality is superb and its ability to do voice cancellation is stellar, but stopping retransmitted sounds of other types has prove more difficult:

Friend: So how’s Max been?
Me: A red fox had a litter a few years ago and the kits are now old enough to howl.
Friend: Do you have a recording of what it sounds like?
Me: Yes.  But it makes my dog go crazy, I’ll send you a youtube video.
Friend: Wow, that’s loud!  *turns back* Honey, listen to this.

Max heard the noise coming through my speakers having been rebroadcast from his and ran to the door barking and having no idea that his quarry was 1700 miles away in Texas.