There are two kinds of people in the world: carpet people and hardwood people. Oh, I suppose there are tile people, too, though for reasons of simplicity let’s just lump them in with the smooth and shiny hardwood people.
With my people. And, I suspect, yours. Hardwood floors are the thing these days. Watch any home improvement show on TV and when the house-hunting couple opens a door on a carpeted room, they invariably say: “Ugh. This will look great when we rip out the carpet.”
I suspect that like hemlines and haircuts, floor covering preferences just cycle through the same set of finite permutations. If “Property Brothers” had been around in 1975, we probably would have heard a lot of: “Ugh. This will look great when we lay down a shag carpet deep enough to lose a Titleist in.”
But we are currently in the Hardwood Era. To us hardwood people, a carpet or a rug is nothing but a dead skin cell repository, a red-wine magnet, a static electricity generator.
So why is the floor of my house slowly filling up with rugs?
Because of the dog.
Last month, our black Lab, Charlie, turned 14. He’s in pretty good health for the canine equivalent of an octogenarian. Gray about the muzzle, yes, but still possessed of a handsome dignity.
Except, that is, when he tries to get up or get down. Charlie’s back hips aren’t what they once were. They’re arthritic, and the muscles of his calves are a bit shriveled. A daily painkiller and little dietary supplement pills are supposed to help. Even so, things that were once easy for him are now an effort.
We’ve started taking Charlie out the back door on walks now, since there are too many steps out the front door. And while once he could literally pull his own weight when I held his leash, now my occasional tug — to stop him from wolfing some disgusting, forbidden thing off the ground, say — can send him sprawling.
I feel awful when that happens. It’s like I’ve kicked Tiny Tim.
Nowhere are Charlie’s advanced years more evident than when he’s getting up from the floor. His rear legs scrabble until he’s able to find purchase and rise. It’s worse on a slippery hardwood floor, hence the rugs.
We’ve always had a Charlie rug in the kitchen, a medium-size rectangle that he knows is his. My Lovely Wife has slowly been adding rugs around the house, little runways of fabric designed to make things easier on the dog’s joints.
The rugs are just one sign that Charlie is getting older. With his weakened legs, pooping and peeing require some adjustments. (If you don’t enjoy reading about dog feces, click away now.) Charlie manages to cock a back leg most times, but sometimes he pees like a girl. I know it embarrasses him, so I look away.
Then there’s pooping (you were warned). Unable to hold his pose for very long, Charlie often does a little dance: Squat, poop, shuffle; squat, poop, shuffle . . . .
This is a problem when you’re a conscientious dog owner, as I am, and you want to collect every trace of your canine’s elimination. I find myself counting out loud as the little bombs drop — “One! Two! Three!” — and trying to spot where each one falls so I can bag it.
It’s as if several crew members have been swept from the deck of a storm-tossed ship and I’m desperate to keep my eyes on them lest they be lost forever in the raging sea.
I’m not sure Charlie understands that he’s getting older. While he’s made a few accommodations to his creaky bones, he still perks up on the homeward stretch of our walks, racing ahead when he should be taking it slow. He knows that after I unclip the leash, he always gets a dog treat. Nothing peels away the years like the promise of a snack.
Or maybe he just wants to lie down and luxuriate on a rug, a furry pasha surveying his realm.
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