And then this afternoon, Max.

I'd noticed he hasn't been barking at the mailman recently. And he needs encouragement to get up from the slippery wood floor; his back legs don't work as well as they did even six weeks ago.

Today I found him standing in the living room with a "what the hell did I come in here for?" look on his face. The last week, he's been standing stock-still and just staring at random times.

He's wuffing at the cats more often, but also staying still and licking their backs and heads more often, which confuses them. When he rolls over for belleh-rubs now, it's an even chance that I'll get a look that says fear and confusion versus a look that says rub mah belleh.

My boy is old. He didn't *get* old; he just suddenly *is* old. One day he was fine; the next he woke up in a puddle and couldn't get up easily and started forgetting stuff. His ears still twitch reflexively when I call his name; it's just now he can't remember his name every time. About one time out of three it's just a sound, not something to respond to.

Just now he's barking at the dogs walking past the house with their humans. If I didn't look outside, I'd think he was only a couple of years old, except that the barking stops too soon.

All I want is for him to have a good Fall and maybe half the winter. I want him to be mobile and happy without all this horrible heat that forces him indoors for most of the day. If he has to go down, I'd prefer he go down all at once, like he was hit by a meteorite. God knows he lived through enough to kill most dogs in his first nine months. I remember how apologetic he looked after he got the Huge Nasty Injections in his back muscles to kill heartworms, just after we rescued him: he kept moving from couch to floor to chair to floor and finally back to chair, just trying to get comfortable.

I will never, ever be ready to say goodbye to my friend, but I at least want him to be able to enjoy one last cool season, with fog and rain and being Braveheart, before he goes.