Monte ran up to me on the beach this morning, nuzzled my hand.
“He likes me!” I said to Dan. Then I remembered that I had a pocket full of liver bits.
Monte is so much thinner than he was, I can feel the bones of his skull when I pat his head. I offer him a liver bit, which he accepts graciously. Monty is such a gentleman.
“How was his night?” I ask Dan.
“Pretty good. But yesterday was bad.”
When I first met Monte, a big black standard poodle/giant schnauzer cross, he was a magnificent, muscular mass of black curls. He’s still magnificent, though he’s quite a bit thinner now, and tires easily. Dan and I watch him as he digs a big hole in the beach. And believe me, a dog as big as Monte–short for Montenegro, which means black mountain–can dig a really big hole. He stops to rest every now and then, sits and admires his handiwork (there’s no word for paw work that I know of.) When the hole is deep enough, he rolls into it, lies on his back and barks.
“What’s that about?” I ask Dan.
At first Dan thought Monte had something wrong with his spine, like Bica does. It was Dan who suggested that I take Bica to a chiropractor. It seemed to be helping Monte move more freely. But next time I saw the two of them, Dan told me that he’d stopped going to the chiropractor. Monte has liver cancer. But you wouldn’t know it, watching him roll in the sand.
Yesterday was singalong day at the Sunshine Centre for Seniors across from road from where our boat is moored. All afternoon I could hear strains of songs my mom and dad used to sing, to my great embarrassment.
Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my DARLING Clementine
You are lost and gone forever. Dreadful sorry, Clementine
But I don’t think I’d find it embarrassing now. I keep thinking how much dad would have liked bringing mom to the island for a day of song, sun, sausage on a bun. I picture mom sitting in her wheelchair, wearing her big red sun hat and for sure her brightest red lipstick. Dad stands behind her, in his loose fitting summer clothes and Tilly hat, one hand on her shoulder. They’re both singing loudly.
How much is that doggie in the window?
The seniors break into a chorus of barks, which just confuses Bica. She looks up from her comfortable spot on the cockpit bench. Is that a pack of dogs? Should I bark? Sounds like there are a lot of them. Maybe I should just be really quiet…
Always, always, they end the afternoon with the same song.
Ob-la-di, ob-la-da life goes on hey!
La la la la life goes on
Life does go on. The sun is shining. There’s a nice cool breeze this morning. Bica falls over a lot now, but she can still make it to the beach, and once she’s there, she romps like a puppy in the sand, plunges into the water after her ball.
And Monte is having a good day. It just doesn’t get any better than this.