It always wrecks me to see an injured or afflicted animal, be it a stray dog scratching helplessly at mounds of scabby boils in Shanghai, a moped-stricken hound in Hanoi, or a baby hippo fatally gored by fighting adult hippos on the Serengeti. (I saw that one on TV in Florence last week. Thanks, Nat Geo.)
Now Cubby the magical, mystical mutt may be ailing, and it’s distressing. The ridiculous animal is suddenly walking like Willy Wonka in the 1971 movie as the chocolatier emerges from his factory to greet the Golden Ticket holders, with a pronounced limp, one leg stiff and useless as a board.
Cubby’s back left leg is palsied and raised off the floor, bent. He’s walking around like one of those fashionable three-legged dogs that pop up in hip shows and movies. (See: Pamela Adlon’s “Better Things” or Wes Anderson’s “The Life Aquatic.”)
I’m no vet, but I’ve gently pressed, pulled and squeezed Cubby’s leg and paw and there seems to be no pain. He’s emitted nary a whine and he looks at me like I’m some sort of touchy-feely perv-o.
He still scampers up and down stairs, leaps onto sofas. Maybe he’s pulling a Wonka. (If you recall, Wonka was faking it, just so he could perform this tremendous somersault and show up everyone as credulous dupes. He was the best.)
I hope he’s faking it, the curly little wisenheimer (actually he’s part Schnauzer). See him in video action just last week HERE. It’s worth it.
As you can see, Cubby’s no old man — the rescue pup is roughly seven — but he’s no Gen Z whippersnapper, either. (Though he does adore making spritely little dances on TikTok.) He’s middle-aged, with tufts of distinguished gray and the breath of a chain-smoker.
But I fret. To watch a creature suffer causes me unshakable anguish. The sick and maimed street animals I’ve seen around the world haunt me many years later. I was even nervous when Cubby, still at the shelter, was neutered and had to wear one of those big cones on his head. He did it with tail-wagging courage and panting dignity.
And now this, the hobbling hound. We’re stumped. The dog will go to the vet if the mystery malady continues. Sometimes animals just want attention, and they can be quite wily at doing it. In the end, we just hope scruffy Cubs has been pulling our leg.