It was bound to happen. He’s nearly eight years old, which, in dog years, means 56. So the walks aren’t as long, and the naps are longer. But today, he did something he hasn’t done since he hurt his back a couple of months ago: He stopped walking. Right on the sidewalk.
I let him choose the direction we’d take, as usual. And rather than turn on the street that would save us 10 or 15 minutes, he chose the long way. I was glad. I needed the exercise, and summer sunshine seems finally to have beat back winter.
But halfway down the block, he stopped walking. He didn’t look at me, didn’t whimper. He just waited. And as I had when he’d hurt his back and I needed to lift him onto the sofa or onto the bed, I just picked him up and began walking. A few drivers who passed us smiled. I’m sure they thought I was pampering him.
We walked that way for a block, him cradled in my arms, feet and smile sunward. But suddenly, he started to wiggle.
“You want to get down?” I asked, as I always do, as if he can respond.
I place him legs down on the sidewalk, and he begins to walk again. Yes, dogs have pride, and they know how to rally.
We walked back home at the pace he set and settled back in at home.
We’re watching the French Open. Well, I’m watching the French Open, and he’s watching me. Rafi Nadal is winning, as expected. Desi’s eyes are closing, time for another nap.
We can’t beat back time. We can’t hold it, delay it or wish it away.
But for today, we’re back to normal. It’s 11:27 SLT (Sunday Lazing Time), and we are happy. In a few hours, we’ll grab the toys and run around the house. Well, I’ll throw them and he’ll run around the house chasing him. His latest one is a weird looking red weasel whose squeakers do not fade.
Desi likes to play chase in the house. It’s not hot; his water bowl is nearby. And when he’s tired, he just quits and lays on his back and looks at me with that “Come hither and rub my chest” look. He rules the house, and he rules my schedule. Just like my daughter once did before she grew up and went to live on her own.
Yep, my dog was a child. Then he became a peer, like a brother you need to take care of or a husband you dote on. Soon, he becomes a parent to whom you are devoted.
He’s 56 years old. He is older than I. Next birthday, he’ll be 63.
SoI rub his head and chest vow to count the days more slowly, to begin lying about his age, to hold him more, to travel and leave him less.
Because you can’t beat back time. Not with a stick. Not with love. Not with wishes.
And I want time to ignore us right now.