In June, I will be 8 years old, which in human years makes me about 56. I am becoming a dog of “a certain age.”
My most favorite thing to do is to curl up naked at the foot of the couch, with my owner’s toes against my tummy, my head on his leg, staring into his eyes. If I were to die right there on the sofa, I would die a happy puppy. I ache terribly when he is gone.
But, I also like taking walks. Lots of them. I like sniffing around in my neighborhood, but I also like the excitement that comes with finding new smells, greeting new dogs. Mostly, though, I hang with a group of dogs where I am the “middle aged” mutt. There is the younger dogs with lots of energy, whose goal on a walk is to consume as much walkway, pee on as many trees and bushes as possible and munch his way through life.. quickly. Then, there are a couple of older ladies who, on occasion, have been known to just sit and take a rest when they need to. Sometimes in the middle of the street.
For the most part, the younger dog becomes impatient. Old dogs drag him down. But, I usually find a shady patch of grass and hang a bit. If she doesn’t move for a while, I’ll go back and gently nuzzle her nose. She eventually starts up again and all is good.
The younger dog gets impatient with me. “What if the school door is closed and it doesn’t smell as good when we get there” or “The leaves will have fallen from the bush if we dawdle.” Well, I tell him we’ll still get there, and if things are different when we do, then we embrace that change as something new, something discovered. He snorts. In a few years, he will probably understand, but for now, it is all about conquest.
The best part about my walks is coming home, but the worst part about my walks is also coming home. Home is comfortable, safe. But home is where I can’t experience new things. Perhaps that is the middle-aged puppy struggle. I’m sure in a few years, when I am the old dog who just plops, sits and rests in the middle of a road when things get too fast, this post will seem all very silly, a desperate cry of “youth” to understand; a youthful boast about understanding age. And I will smile at my younger self and know that I really did not know what I thought I did.
I like my puppy friends and I will miss the older ladies when they can no longer walk with us. I hope when I am older, someone will always be there to reach back, wait for me when I need to rest and nuzzle my nose when I need it most.