This story of a leukemia survivor and his wolfhound with a tumor is a wonderful story of aging and irrelevance. Sokolov, fifty-three, takes his dog to the vet and finds out that the dog has just a few days to live. We watch Lermontov, the wolfhound, attempt to defecate and are not disgusted by it but recognize the pain.
"Chancing another bleak glance, he saw Lermontov motionless, maybe done, but then beginning again the stiffening hopeless crouch, the shakes working from the legs up that indicated he was still--who could blame him?--trying."
Havazelet weaves the Chekhov story, "The Lady with the Dog," into his plot. Sokolov and Kelly meet in the park. Kelly is on the bench with her dog, Lermontov, and Sokolov says, "You know, there's a famous Russian story about two people meeting over a dog."
Coincidentally Kelly is working on her PhD in comp lit and women's studies and Sokolov is a professor of Russian literature. They live together for three years until she accepts a job elsewhere. In the meantime, Sokolov suffers from leukemia but Kelly stays with him until he's well. Aging is thrust upon him like a door slamming when he realizes that he's become invisible to women.
This is my favorite type of short story. The story takes place in a small space of time during a mundane activity but it encapsulates a lifetime of gained wisdom and reflections. Here we have an older man who has survived a terrible illness and a dog attempting the same thing. Neither one gives up but both are coping the best they can.
"Gurov in Manhattan" was first published in TriQuarterly and subsequently accepted for Best American Short Stories, 2011.
Wikipedia page for Havazelet