Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dog in Winter

l-r:  Luis, age 9, and Bo, age 14, following an hour's walk at Kennesaw Mountain's Battlefield Park today.
This may be Bo's last winter.  I've thought that before, but now he's deaf, unable to jump up into the back of the wagon, apt to backslide down the stairs, and painstakingly slow to lower his hindquarters when he wants to rest.  Sitting must be painful, because he simply dips his head when I command him to "sit" for his supper, though he still looks to me for the command before he digs in.   Besides, he has lumps growing and hardening on his shoulders and flank.  A surgeon removed one the size of a golf ball that turned out to be benign, but any one of these could turn out to be the One.

Yet after I lift him into my bed at night, he tosses my pillows with his head, tail wagging.  He luxuriates in his morning rub down as if he'd paid for the massage.  When I pull on my trousers, he jumps out of bed and wraps a trouser leg around his head, delighted to begin one more day, with all its favorite morning rituals:  stepping out front to nose around bushes, drinking water, and digging into his dish.  He also enjoys a game that he plays with his younger adopted brother Luis, in which each tries to sneak mouths full of the other's food.

So long as Bo wants things with such eagerness, I'd say there's still life in him... or, better, he's still "in" his life.

I reflect on what's left in my life that I want so acutely.   While Bo lopes from one anticipated pleasure to another, I feel like I just meet deadlines, and what I want mostly is to put the next thing behind me. 

There's a religious reflection in here, somewhere.  Ecclesiastes resonates.   A meditation in this season's Forward Day by Day suggests that Jesus identified with children because, like them, he was good at living in the moment, spontaneous in his pleasures, unburdened by his past, unworried about his future.  Sounds like Bo to me: an old dog, enjoying the start of his fifteenth year as completely as he has enjoyed every other moment of his life.

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