Watching my dogs sleep, and reflecting upon their mortality | Street Jazz

Watching my dogs sleep, and reflecting upon their mortality

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Acquiring a dog may be the only opportunity a human ever has to choose a relative. - Mordecai Siegal

It is difficult enough to acknowledge the aging process when it comes to myself, but when it comes to my dogs, I have steadfastly refused to even admit the possibility. In my mind, they have always been the same young animals we rescued from various abusive homes so many years ago.

In the last few months, though, reality has set in, and I have noticed the signs of aging, that they have lived life along with myself and my wife, but won’t be along with us for the long haul.

We have had to put a number of dogs to sleep over the past few years, including my late mother-law’s dogs, and my late sister-in-law’s beautiful Labrador, who was felled by skin cancer.

But the original trio - the Three Stooges - we put together when we got together as a couple are now showing their age, even the fabled Action Dog, and sometimes you have to wonder how long it might be before . . .

They are all well over ten years old, but still in fairly good shape for their ages, but there is the gray hair, and the slower gait (even Action Dog is a little slower with the Frisbee these days) and they aren’t quite so interested in attacking what they know in their hearts are dogs 12 feet tall on the other side of the wooden fence. A few barks, but they are all-too-willing to head to the house when I call them in.

They sleep a lot more than they used to.

It’s quite possible that I m projecting here, given the minor health issues Tracy and I have had recently, but still, sometimes they want nothing more than to sit at our feet when we are watching TV, or working at the computer.

Which is emotionally satisfying all on its own, actually, for all concerned.

This doesn’t mean that they are perpetually lethargic. If someone dares ring a doorbell on TV it can, as ever, bring out their watchdog instincts, and they are ready to let any of the contractors working on the house know that they might, if need be, turn into formidable forces to be reckoned with.

When I begin making dinner for them, you would think they hadn’t been fed in months.

Just a few months ago Dublin, the terrier, brought a rabbit head in and left it on Tracy’s pillow as a present for her. Watching Those Calloways last year - from the era when Disney still made movies adults could watch without turning off their brains - he seemed fascinated by the geese flying on the screen, as if thinking , “I’ve got your geese sanctuary right here, boys.”

Shalaundra, our Labrador who as a puppy thought that chasing down a horse in Devil’s Den State Park was the greatest idea in the world, has trouble getting up on the couch, but she can still run like mad across the yard.

Action Dog - she who answers to several names - is slower these days, but won’t admit for the world.

Like dogs, our bodies age but in our minds we are still in our 20s and 30s, and the refusal of our bodies to perform as well as they once did is a minor annoyance at best. We’ll do better the next time.

We just need a little more rest . . . maybe some vitamins.

And so I watch my dogs as they sleep and wonder when we won’t enjoy each other’s company any longer. Though I’ll mourn that day, and for many days afterwards, I don’t feel any particular sadness now.

We still have this journey to go on now, hobbling occasionally together as we go, and that sustains me.

******

Quote of the Day

To study foreign affairs without putting ourselves into other’s shoes is to deal in illusion and to prepare students for a lifelong misunderstanding of our place in the world. - Paul Gagnon

sdrake@cox.net

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