Friday, January 21, 2005

Among Old Dogs

Now that the puppies are gone, except for Sweet Pea who is sublimely inoffensive, the old dogs have upped their demands for attention, just a little extra to make up for hard weeks, the harsh weeks, the “youf” in your face weeks. Like aged pensioners who grudge the school tax, they don’t see the “youf” as their province.

Max just wants to talk, Toby to cuddle. Highly human interactive, these two, their needs are as individual as any mother’s children.

Cookies and pats for Max, with lots of verbal backdrop. “That’s my boy, my good dog.” The toasty aroma of warm German Shepherd is the most comforting, brain-numbing, loving smell I know. It takes me back to an emotional pre-verbal place of pure trust. I love my Max. Even when I have been lectured to distraction, even when I really wish an old dog didn’t need so many trips outside, even when I wish the mice weren’t seen as a terrorist threat requiring….talk, talk, talk and more talk, even then and always, I love Max.

Bones and apples for Toby, yes, apples. The goofball adores them, particularly stolen from Sweet Pea. He has stockpiled a treasure of three bones and twelve rocks, but no puppies, thank you. How uneven a match between 90-pound Rottie/Shepherd Toby and baby Sweet Pea, who might be up to twelve pounds by now. When she has his apple, well! The heavens might as well fall; no greater debacle or iniquity is possible. Still the baaaaaby dog (see Loving Toby post last week), is my best fan, the one for whom I can never do wrong. He puts a paw on my arm: “Love me, love me, Mom.” I do, Toby, I do, even when the paws annoy.

After weeks of juvenile hi-jinks, weeks of in-your-face puppydom, what a joy it is to sink back into the measured repose of life with old dogs. With old dogs, you can’t help being grateful for each extra year or month or day. Every hug comes with flashbacks to the puppy that was, the steadfast lifelong love that persists.

Let us give thanks for the blessing of old dogs. Let us give thanks for Max and for Toby, for all old dogs extraordinaire.

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