Max news!

Thank you, first of all, to all the folks who sent/commented with tips and tricks for old, arthritic dogs.

The vet says two things:

1. It's probable that the trouble with Max's hind legs is arthritis in his hips. HOWEVER. There is a rare degenerative spinal disease that tends to hit German Shepherds, so he's going in for X-rays on Thursday to make sure that it's actually arthritis.

2. The memory loss doesn't concern her yet, because it's recent, sporadic, and correlates with the horrible heatwave here. I am to keep a journal of when he goes blank and, if I get more than five or six instances in the next couple of months, to bring it back to her. My marvelously intuitive brother-in-law might be right: this might be Max saying "I hate the heat and there are ants biting my butt."

Also, he has Old Dog Teeth and Old Dog Skin Weirdnesses, but we're not going to put him under to deal with them. His heart's fine, his bloodwork is pending, but honestly? I don't see the point in putting a 107-lb, eleven-year-old dog under general anesthetic to have a couple of minor, benign skin-things removed and his teeth cleaned. They're not *that* bad.

I learned today that the fastest way to get a reaction out of people is to take your very large old dog into a liquor store on the wrong side of the tracks. There's a store here that sells 471, a pale ale I particularly like, and so I ran past there on the way home from the vet's, with Max in tow. I took him in because, in 100-degree heat, you don't leave any animal in any car for any length of time.

We walked past Mexican roofers with cases of Corona Light in their arms, gang-banger wannabes with saggy shorts and gold teeth and bandannas, and scary-skinny blonde white women with prison tattoos, and all of them were totally silent. Max was prick-eared and perky; he likes going new places. Not one person said one damn thing to me, the chunky chick in the empire-waisted flowy hippie-dress. Except one guy, who came in, stopped dead in the doorway, and said, "Woah." I reassured him that Max was friendly, so he came closer, scratched Max behind the ears, and said, "He's a big man, ain't he?" I replied that yes, he got that way through drinking all my beer, and the guy chuckled while Max drooled on his shoes.

Max is now lying on the dining room floor, and taking up most of it, because he has had a Very Big Day.