Bix, the Mississippi mudhound, was on injured reserve for about a week.
In the game of ball, he keeps his focus, gives 110 percent and hits all cylinders. That kind of effort comes with a cost: turf paw.
When he wasn’t hobbling on all threes, he was curled up, licking the wound and, by extension, the couch.
He made an uncontrollable “Urk!” sound whenever he jumped off the couch or the bed. But for the most part, he refused to acknowledge the pain.
“I can take it, Boss,” he said. “We mudhounds are made of hearty stuff.”
“‘Hearty?’ That’s a good word.”
“This ol’ dog’s still got a few tricks,” he said.
“You’re not old.”
“Excuse me. It’s time for my medication,” he said, then jumped onto the couch and started licking himself.
Bix is tough, but he’s no Stoic. We endured several bouts of whining because he wanted to play through the pain, though he could barely stand on his right front leg.
“No ball for you, Bix,” I said. “Not until you’re all better.”
I wish there were some way to reproduce his mournful tone, but that’s beyond my abilities.
“Let me try,” said Viola, grand dame and house cat. “He wailed like the lower life-form that he is.”
“‘Wailed’ is a good word,” I said.
“You’re too kind,” she said.
“But I don’t think you really captured the anguish of Bix’s heart.”
“You bore me,” Viola said. She didn’t actually move, but something switched deep inside that feline head of hers and she was a million miles away.
“Why do you keep the cats around, Boss?” Bix asked.
“Ego deflation,” I said. “Everybody needs it once in a while. And they’re soft and cuddly when they want to be.”
“I don’t see it,” Bix said.
“No, I don’t suppose you would,” I said, happy that his mind was off the ball.
They’ve changed the formula for counting dogs’ ages. Used to be, one year for a human was seven for a dog, but scientists decided that some dog years are harder on them than others.
I don’t know the exact number, but Bix and I both aged at an accelerated rate during his injury. It takes two to play ball. I’m not as committed to the game as he is, but I missed our routine, too.
After a little more than a week, we decided Bix was ready to get off the sidelines. It was probably the third ball I’d thrown, and Bix did a beautiful, twisting back flip and came down with it.
“Good dog,” I said. “Nice catch.”
“You know,” he said, though it was garbled because he had a ball in his mouth. “I like it better when you compliment my ball skills, instead of my vocabulary.”
I nodded, but, between you and me, “vocabulary” is an impressive word for a Mississippi mudhound, especially one with a ball in his mouth.
M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal entertainment writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.