Thursday, December 02, 2004

Lifestyles of the furry and differently abled

We've had Cairo the three-legged dog for slightly more than six months now. He has become an integral member of the family. I can't imagine being without him.

Aside from his sunny, loving, loyal disposition and his marvelously plushy orange fur, the best thing about him is his absolute non-acknowledgement of the fact that he's missing a hind leg. I think he dreams in "four legs"--I'm guessing that from the way his body moves when he's running in his sleep--but he has certainly learned how to live life to the fullest with three.

Cairo's number-one favorite game is fetch. He loves tennis balls especially because of their bounciness and mouthfeel. I throw one, and I hear a frantic one-two-three one-two-three one-two-three of toenailed feet across the hardwood as he runs to get it. He doesn't corner well, bless him, but he can really move on a straightaway.

In case you're wondering where Silver is in all this, she's lying in wait. Silver's favorite game is not fetch; it's tug-of-war. She ambushes Cairo on his way back to me and tries to pry the ball out of his mouth. She usually wins, but Cairo doesn't care. If Silver is the one who returns the ball to me, it's fine, as long as I throw the ball for him again.

Outside, Cairo is even more in his element. The grass and dirt give him excellent traction. No dog needs four legs on natural turf. Cairo frolics and dances around with every bit of joy in his doggy heart.

At the risk of offering too much information, I am awed by the way Cairo poops. Recall, if you will, that dogs adopt a hunched, seated-with-levitating-butt posture when they do a #2. To approximate this, Cairo has to use some serious Dog Yoga. He places his right front leg waaaaaay back alongside his left (and only) hind leg, and he balances in a perfect, tenuous tripod.

Cairo still can't jump onto the bed by himself, and he has a lot of trouble with the steep staircase to our upper story. But he gets stronger and braver every day. Recently, when the s.o. was holding a tennis ball aloft, just out of reach, I noticed him pogoing into the air on one hind leg.

People tell me they can't understand spending as much money as I did to bring a stray dog back to health. But I don't understand that point of view, and I guess I never will.