Just for something to say, I asked him about his dog. He told me he’d gotten it after his wife died. […] He hadn’t been happy with his wife, but he’d pretty much gotten used to her. When she died he had been very lonely. So he asked a shop buddy for a dog and he’d gotten this one very young. He’d had to feed it from a bottle. But since a dog doesn’t live as long as a man, they’d ended up being old together. "And," he added, "you didn’t know him before he got sick. His coat was the best thing about him." Every night and every morning after the dog had gotten that skin disease, Salamano rubbed him with ointment. But according to him, the dog’s real sickness was old age, and there’s no cure for old age. (1.5.8)
Old Salamano’s dog has served as his wife and companion since the former’s death. Growing old together, Salamano has become attached to the dog. However, the dog’s skin condition reminds us of the inescapability of death and decay.