The other day my oldest dog threw his back out humping a pillow.
Well, we think this is what happened any way. He has had a rough time getting around the house of late, which we attribute to his age what with his 14th birthday looming on the horizon. Going up and down stairs takes him a bit longer, partially because he's slower and partially because he'll perch at the top of them and stare for a few seconds as if it takes an act of will to traverse them. Sometimes he'll walk funny, sometimes he won't. Sometimes he'll jump down from the bed or the couch without a problem, sometimes he doesn't so much jump as he'll fall in a semi-controlled manner and land with a resounding thud.
Through this all though, he has continued to hump the pillows.
My dog is an inveterate pillow humper and has been ever since we had him neutered a scant six weeks or so after coming home. In his youth you could chart the path of his day by following the trail of fucked pillows as they lay strewn about the home. He would start his day in the living room, then move to the family room, then the spare bedrooms before finally coming to rest on our bed, usually saving his most furious bout of copulation with my bed pillow. The dog and I have shared a mutual, long simmering disdain for each other for years now, which I attribute to my wife. Simply put, the dogs were her babies before we had babies and while my second dog has always tirelessly worked for my affection, stealing a pat on the head or a sit in my lap when I'm willing to give it, and being thankful for it, my first dog sees me as nothing more than competition for my wife. Oh sure, he's happy when I pet him, but he's also snapped at me more than anyone else in the family, and he has never snapped at my wife. We get along, choosing to avoid each other and for the most part, it works out. Except for the pillows.
It's hard not to read human intention into animal behaviour, especially animals that you live with so when I get home to see my pillow humped to hell, I take it as an insult. After all, the pillow has to smell like me, so if the dog is choosing to hump it, it has to be his way of exerting a meager amount of control over me, or at the very least, flipping me the doggy finger. Whether or not he meant it to be an insult or it was simply a manner of my pillow being more humpable, the end result was the same, the pillow would be on the floor, one corner stiff from where he held it in his mouth, the side of the pillow dented due to his fervent thrusting.
The most amazing, if that adjective can be used in such a situation, aspect of his humping was how quickly he would get down to business. On many occasions, he wouldn't even wait for us to get down the driveway. If I forgot my wallet, or needed something else from the house and came back in, there he would be, fucking the living room pillow with abandon not thirty seconds after we had left. I consider myself a normal, red blooded male and even in my horniest, most sex obsessed teenage days I don't think I could go from zero to fucking in such a short span of time. Certainly not now when those days are a good twenty years behind me.
As he got older, the amount of humping lessened, but it still remained. The daily ritual upon coming home from work, or from a day of running errands would be to get put the various pillows back on the couch, both those left for him, the "house" pillows if you will, and those deemed to nice to be violated by him, the "guest" pillows. Earlier this week, Linda noticed that in the morning, the dog was walking well, spry and full of pep and she returned home from an errand, picked up a pillow and noticed the dog walking oddly, as if in pain. Shortly afterwards she sent me a message informing me that our dog threw his back out humping the pillow.
It's an odd feeling to see something you love, or at least begrudgingly tolerate, get older to the point where their normal behaviour becomes less and less of a certainty. I'm not the most adventurous sexual partner, but I have, on occasion tweaked this thing or that thing while engaging in activities, and it has given me pause, but not so that I'd consider not engaging any more. To see my dog, who has humped pillows for over ten years now, leaving a trial of violated bed accessories in his wake, get to the point where this activity may have to stop due to his old age is sobering. Turns out time waits for no man, or dog as the case may be.
I have joked for years that the easiest thing would be to just put the dogs down and move on with our lives, having removed two of the four obstacles that lay between us and the ability to live unfettered. The cruel joy of pets is that they are expendable and when they are gone, they are well and truly gone, unlike children who may leave your home, but you will always worry about and fret over, even if you do so at a rare 5:00 movie, or a dinner date taken right from work. Not so with pets. Pets don't move out, they move on.
So when I see that my dog, our first shared biological responsibility is getting old enough to not go about his day, even a reduced version of it, it saddens me because as much as the old bastard annoys me, he has been a part of our lives for quite a while now and as much as it might be easier to not have him around, I can't say with certainty that easier equals better. Plus, the fact remains that as he got older, I did too and if he is getting to the point where he can't do the things he loves due to the advances of age, that day will eventually come for me as well, provided I don't die beforehand. When I do get to that point, will my children joke about putting me down? Will I be seen as an obstacle for their ability to go about their lives unfettered? Will I have warts and a penchant for fucking inanimate objects? I sure hope not.
The wife and I have said that the dog needs to go to the vet, but neither of us are taking the steps to do so, which, I'll admit, is cruel to the dog, but I know that for me, it's not necessarily because I want to avoid the expense, because I do, but more because I don't want to be told that the dog is getting to the point where the right choice is the final one. I do not want to take him on that final car ride. I do not want to have that talk with my children. I do not want to get mad at my other dog because she won't stop searching the house for her brother. Most of all though, I do not want to come home to a house of unhumped pillows.