Sunday, January 12, 2014

Old Dogs, Old Men


She turns 15 in June, 110 or so in dog years. She's no longer the spry fawn reindeer chi that once leaped from barstool to kitchen counter to raid a pot of stew. Now she sometimes raises up from her bed, then clumsily collapses, legs splayed in all directions, having failed her this time.

She's hypothryroid and requires canine synthroid now, she's survived two cancer operations and, when you look into her sweet and still pretty face, both eyes are blue marbled with deep cataracts. She still sees well enough to not bump into walls but is no longer on alert for pesky birds out in the backyard…she's learned to live and let live with God's other creatures. Her sweet temperament has always made her the "beta" dog, whether with her late husband, Rocky, or her now sister, Rosie.

Her hearing is going faster than even her eyesight and she sometimes stops a walk around the room and, for no reason, stops and goes into that "thousand mile stare" of those who are lost for a time. Perhaps she's staring far out to that Rainbow Bridge that she will cross one day. When I let her out to go do her morning business (mostly at three or four in the morning) she is lost to me in the dark confines of the back yard. Sometimes she returns promptly and sometimes I have to get a flashlight and go hunt for her and bring her back in.

No longer does she stage life or death bouts with a stuff toy, or chase after a ball. No longer does she follow behind me helping me to dig holes in the garden to plant seed, nor chase a mocking bird. Her babies have been gone for years, the babies she cried for when they were put up for adoption and I sometimes wonder if she even remembers them now. She was a loving mother, a great spouse for Rocky and she's been a sweet and protective sister to Rosie even now.

She no longer leaps into my lap and no longer enjoys sitting in my lap anymore..preferring the soft confines of her doggie bed to my bony lap. A couple of months ago I had to remove the human chair that she used to bound up into for her afternoon nap…she would often injure herself when she leaped down onto the hard floor…then she would limp about for a couple of days. I worried that she would break a fragile old leg bone in her leaps down so she's been grounded now for months.

So one old man and one old dog co-exist in the winter of our days. Our bones ache, especially on a cold morning and we spend not a few hours dreaming of our youth when we were young and strong, the sun on our back and the years ahead so plentiful they seemed never ending.


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  2. I had the privilege to meet Ginger and she is a sweetheart. Unlike her baby sister
    Rosie who had to be bribed. She finally warmed up to her cousin Ralpheboy after a doggie biscuit.