Every day is a beginning – even if it is slower

We went into the garage to climb into the truck and run some errands. Usually, he hops up into the driver’s seat and climbs over to his own, riding shotgun like a guy.

But today, he stood and looked up at me, a single paw raised like a first-grader’s hand when he thinks he knows the answer to a question.

I picked him up and placed him on my seat, and he briskly moved to his window.

Hours later, after we’d returned home, he stood on the seat and waited for me to take him down from the seat to the floor. He darted into the house like his old self, accepted a treat, then went to his favorite spot for a nap.

He’s napping a lot more these days.

Desi is 13.

And I’m feeling forlorn. I get all the uplifting quotes on Twitter about living in the moment, not looking for pain before it comes. I like the Will Smith video about how he lived in fear of skydiving only to have no fear as he later fell through the air.  Messed up two days of his life trembling at the thought of something, but having no fear at the moment he fell through the air.

I am looking at Desi and remembering the first day he came home, tiny little 10-pound runt of a litter. The employee of the last-chance rescue mission where he was said if we didn’t take him, he’d be put down. I didn’t think used-car salesman; I thought loving savior.

I remember telling that employee that our other dog, Lucy, was in the car and didn’t get along with any dogs – and that they had to meet. And even though the dogs were not to be allowed to leave the Detroit Zoo, where this huge animal adoption fair was taking place 13 years ago, she sneaked him out to our car to meet Lucy, a brilliant and beautiful Keeshond who was used to getting all the attention from my daughter and me.

And I remember Desi climbing into the car and sitting next to Lucy like that had always been his spot, and Lucy accepting him like that had always been his spot.

So regal. So assured of his place and our future love.

I remember my daughter initially naming him Ricky and saying now that we had Lucy and Ricky, we needed to get Fred and Ethel. And I remember changing his name that day and reminding him that Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were a couple, just the two of them, no one else.

I am thinking that I’m not going to think about what’s coming, besides more fun days, loving hugs when I arrive home with him standing on his back legs, grabbing me with his front paws, like a guy. I am thinking of the incessant barking he does every night at every noise in our neighborhood.

I’m thinking that I’ll focus on the times that he has looked at me like I’m crazy – like the time I tried to make him drink water of a child’s potty training seat. How did I know? It was IKEA!

Or the time I tried to use a pet vacuum on him. Yeah, somebody came up with that idea.

Or the time he had to have surgery to remove a sty on his eye and had to wear a cone on his head. It was fun for about 20 minutes, then he thought I had lost my mind. We were up most of the night until he finally fell asleep, only to wake up the next morning, mad at me all over again.

I will remember to enjoy every day – the biscuits and bacon that he loves, the cuddly love that is a requirement at bedtime, the mile-long walks in spring and summer and the quarter-mile walks in winter when I have to carry him back home.

I will still remember to take him for a hamburger when I return from trips and pick him up from doggy day care.

We’ll still have fun even if the walks are slower, the naps are longer, and he needs a little help getting into the truck.















ROCHELLE RILEY’s essays on this blog are personal. No reprints without permission. You can read her newspaper columns at www.freep.com/rochelleriley and follow her on Twitter @rochelleriley.

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