您现在的位置: 纽约时报中英文网 >> 纽约时报中英文版 >> 观点 >> 正文

家有老狗的爱与煎熬

更新时间:2018-2-27 20:30:17 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The Pain of Loving Old Dogs
家有老狗的爱与煎熬

NASHVILLE — It’s 2 in the morning, and it has just started to rain. It’s a gentle rain, with no threat of high winds or lightning. I know this without having to get up to peer into the dark night or put on my glasses to check the weather app on my phone. I know the facts of this meteorological reality without even opening my eyes because there is a large dog with halitosis now standing beside my bed, panting.

纳什维尔——现在是凌晨两点,刚刚下起了雨。雨不大,没有狂风和闪电的威胁。不用起身望向漆黑的夜空或戴上眼镜查看手机的天气应用。我闭着眼睛就能知道这样的天气情况,是因为一只有口臭的大狗正站在我的床边,重重地喘息。

I’m grateful it’s only a rain shower. If this were a thunderstorm, Clark would be pacing the house, climbing into bathtubs and struggling to get out again, hunching under desks and overturning the chairs pushed up to them, knocking guitars from their stands — seeking shelter. He’s afraid of the rain, but he’s driven mad by thunderstorms.

还好只是下雨。如果是场雷雨,克拉克就会在房子里走来走去,会爬进浴缸再挣扎着爬出来,会缩在桌子底下,掀翻靠着桌子摆放的椅子,还会撞翻架子上的吉他——寻找庇护。他怕雨,但雷暴更会令他发狂。

On stormy nights, my husband gets up to force a tablet of dog-strength Xanax down Clark’s throat, and for an hour we will both lie in the dark, sleepless, while the dog staggers around the house in a state of now-drunken anxiety. Eventually the human tranquilizer will override the canine despair, and we’ll all go back to sleep.

在雷雨交加的夜晚,丈夫会起身强迫克拉克吞下一粒犬类剂量的安眠药,接下来的一个小时,我们俩会在黑暗中清醒地躺着,处在醉酒焦虑状态的大狗会在屋子里踉踉跄跄。最后,这颗人类的镇定剂将压倒犬类的绝望,我们便都能重新入睡。

Thirty years ago my husband wanted to establish a ceiling for any veterinary bills that might be incurred by the cat he had just acquired by marriage. He said, “If the cat needs something that costs more than a hundred dollars, I say we opt for the $40 shot and go get a new cat.”

三十年前,我的丈夫曾想过给那只通过婚姻获得的猫设定一个兽医开支上限。他说,“如果这只猫需要的东西超过100美元,我说我们不如给它打一个40美元的针然后买只新的。”

It was my cat, so my vote counted more than his did, and the cat lived to a ripe old age. But in my husband’s defense I should mention that his formative years were spent in the small-town South, where humane people went out in the yard and shot an animal if it was suffering. I should also mention that, in 1988, we were paying student loans on the salaries of first-year schoolteachers, and $100 was more money than we spent on our own food or medicine.

那是我的猫,所以我的意见比他的管用,猫也活到了够老的年纪。但帮我丈夫说句话,我应该提一下,他是在南方的小镇上长大的,那里的人道精神是看到院子里有受罪的动物要过去一枪打死。我还要说的是,1988年,我们正在用当老师第一年的工资还着学生贷款,100美元比我们自己花在食物或药品上的钱还多。

My husband would have found it impossible to believe that 30 years later he would be running around the house in his boxers, trying to tackle an ancient 70-pound mutt in the dark and shove a pill down his throat.

我的丈夫当时一定不会相信,30年后的他会穿着短裤在家里跑来跑去,试图在黑暗中扑倒一只70磅重的年迈混种狗,把一粒药往他喉咙里塞。

Clark is also deaf, and he suffers from crippling arthritis. So far we have been able to manage his pain with medication, but at his checkup last year, when he turned 13, the vet had some sobering news. “With big dogs, there’s often a huge difference between 12 and 13,” he said. “One day Clark won’t be able to get up, and when that happens it’ll be time to let him go.”

克拉克还聋了,患有严重的关节炎。目前,我们还能用药物帮他应付痛苦,但在他去年满了13岁去做检查时,兽医给我们提了一个醒。“对大狗来说,12岁和13岁往往有很大差别,”他说。“总有一天,克拉克会站不起来,而当这一天到了,就该让他走了。”

The very idea is unthinkable. Clark has been our family protector, making political canvassers and religious zealots think twice about knocking on our door. He was the dog of our sons’ childhood, the pillow they sprawled on during Saturday-morning cartoons, the security blanket they returned to after an impossible test or a classroom bully or, later, a broken heart.

这个概念不可想象。克拉克一直都是我们一家的守护者,让政治游说者和宗教狂热分子在敲响我们的家门之前考虑再三。他是家里的男孩们童年时代的狗,是他们周六早晨动画时间枕着的枕头,是他们在一场难到不可理喻的考试或在教室里被欺负之后,或者是后来,分手伤心的时候,总会回归的安慰毯。

At 14, this big dog has now surpassed his life expectancy, but he is not the oldest dog in our house. We are also the custodians of my late mother’s ancient miniature dachshund, Emma, who is seven months older. She obliterated any thought of vet-bill caps in her first three months under our care. Emma has survived countless trips to the emergency clinic because she is the most accomplished food thief her canny breed has ever produced. She dragged an entire pound of dark chocolate bonbons under the guest bed and ate them before anyone noticed a lone fluted paper wrapper in the middle of the floor and wondered where it had come from. Rummaging through visitors’ purses, she has consumed whole packages of gum, pouches of dusty Tums and, once, a zip-lock bag full of prescription medicine.

这只14岁的大狗已经超过了他的预期寿命,但他并不是我们家里最老的狗。我们还是迷你腊肠犬艾玛(Emma)的监护人,她比克拉克大7个月,原本属于我已故的母亲。在照看她的前三个月里,她彻底打消了我们关于兽医费用上限的任何想法。艾玛在无数次送急诊的途中活了下来,因为腊肠犬本来就是一种精明的狗,她又格外擅长偷吃。她从客房床底下拖出整整一磅黑巧克力糖,全都吃了下去,直到有人发现地板中间有一小片糖果包装纸,不知它到底是从哪儿来的。她翻遍了客人们的手包,吃掉了好几包口香糖、落满灰尘的Tums胃药,有一次甚至吃掉了带拉链包装的一整袋处方药。

There’s no room here to tell the whole story of the time Emma ate a tray of rat poison at a rented fishing cabin on Kentucky Lake, but it involves a manic drive down a twisting highway as the whole family peered through the trees for a sign of any kind of store that might sell hydrogen peroxide. You don’t know the real value of the human community if you’ve never poured hydrogen peroxide down an eight-pound dog’s throat in the parking lot of a Family Dollar store with half a dozen rural Kentuckians offering advice. Let me tell you, country people know what to do when a dog eats rat poison.

在这里,我不能详述艾玛在我们租住的肯塔基湖钓鱼小屋里吃了一盘老鼠药的故事,不过我可以告诉你,当时我们疯狂地沿着蜿蜒的高速公路行驶,全家人紧盯着路边,想要透过树丛看到任何有可能出售双氧水的店铺。如果你从来没在家万金百货店的停车场上按照六名肯塔基农民的建议,将双氧水灌入一只八磅重小狗的喉咙,你就不会知道人类社会的真正价值。让我来告诉你,乡下人知道狗吃了老鼠药后该怎么办。

That bottle of hydrogen peroxide cost 78 cents, but the three months of professional treatment that followed made a trip to the emergency vet look like a trip to the dollar store.

那瓶双氧水的价格是78美分,但在随后三个月的专业治疗中,每次去看兽医急诊就像去杂物店,成了家常便饭。

Other people make health care choices for their pets that we could not afford for Clark and Emma, but we will always give them anything that’s within our power to give. Clark, our children’s canine sibling, and Emma, who gave my grieving mother a reason to get out of bed every morning after my father died — these dogs are our family.

有人为自己的宠物买了医疗保险,我们没钱给克拉克和艾玛买那样的保险,但我们会永远给他们提供任何我们力所能及的东西。克拉克是孩子们的狗兄弟;至于艾玛,在我父亲死后,她是悲伤的母亲每天早上起床的动力——这两只狗是我们的家人。

Clark is now under the care of a young hospice vet. On his first visit — a terrible day two weeks ago when suddenly Clark could no longer stand up — the vet worked a miracle. Now on a new combination of medications, Clark is wagging his tail again and begging to be taken on walks. But time is still time, and always unfolding. On the hospice vet’s next visit, he will most likely be coming to help us say goodbye.

克拉克现在由一名年轻的临终关怀兽医医治。那是两周前一个糟糕的日子,克拉克突然站不起来了,当时那名兽医第一次来看诊,他创造了一个奇迹。现在,在服用了一组新药之后,克拉克再次摇起了尾巴,乞求带他出去散步。但时间总是在流逝,克拉克的时日终归是有限的。这位临终关怀兽医下次来看诊时,很可能是来帮我们跟克拉克告别的。

Clark understands that he is old and weak and vulnerable, and it’s hard now to leave him alone with his fears. I watch sometimes from the next room when my husband leaves the house and Clark thinks he has been abandoned. Standing next to the door, he folds himself up, lowering his hind quarters gradually, bit by bit, until his aching haunches touch the floor. He slides his front feet forward, slowly, slowly, and he is down.

克拉克知道自己老了,很虚弱,很脆弱,现在他如此恐惧,很难让他离开人独处。有时,丈夫离开家时,我在隔壁房间看着克拉克,他以为自己被抛弃了。他站在门边,把身子蜷成一团,慢慢地降低后半个身躯,一点一点地,直到疼痛的臀部触到地板。他非常缓慢地向前滑动前脚,他终于趴下了。

A moan begins in the back of his throat, lower pitched than a whine, higher than a groan, and grows. His head tips back. His eyes close. The moan escapes in a rush of vowels, louder and louder and louder, and now he is howling. It’s the sound he made in his youth whenever he heard a siren passing on the big road at the edge of the neighborhood, but he can’t hear that far any more.

他喉咙的后部开始发出呜咽声,比哀嚎的声音低,比呻吟的声音高,而且越来越大声。他的头微微后仰。他的眼睛闭上了。呜咽声慢慢变成了一连串元音,越来越响,现在他是在嚎叫了。年轻时,每当听到社区边缘的大路上有警笛声经过,他就会发出这种声音,但他现在听不到那么远的声音了。

“全文请访问纽约时报中文网,本文发表于纽约时报中文网(http://cn.nytimes.com),版权归纽约时报公司所有。任何单位及个人未经许可,不得擅自转载或翻译。订阅纽约时报中文网新闻电邮:http://nytcn.me/subscription/”

相关文章列表