Sunday, September 4, 2016

a last long walk together

We went out walking.  A family with their dogs strolling through the sunset shadows and tall grasses. It was Beach's idea. 

It was supposed to be a long walk through the nature preserve lead by the dreams of an Indian Childhood & the pursuit of frogs. 

But as we slowly walked down the path, we found that our attention was mostly captured by the old dog struggling along. 

Mose's high-speed descent into senility has been a source of demure humor at our house. A reflection of ourselves and our future.  As he always has, this dog is going first to where we will follow.

This whole "dog year's" things is so strange. It is no secret that in the ~13+ years we have had Moses I have never really like him. I probably love him.  I certainly have spent the most time and miles with him. But he is not my dog, never has been. 

From the moment BC let him out of the kennel at the Humane Society all those years ago and he ran to me sniffing my pregnant belly I knew we didn't really belong to each other. 

But I have always had a huge reservoir of empathy for him and a sense of duty.  So watching him age right before us seems like science fiction.  He is so old. How did this happen? 

But it is happening.  Trailing behind him watching as his back feet began scrapping the ground; his hips are failing. "He is only front wheel drive now." I keep saying we are at the end but I don't think I have understood it.   

Following little dog and Beach down to the water he became stuck in the grass coming back.  Hopelessly high-centered in a clump of fountain grass.  

I thought about Brandon's dog when she got tangled in the morning glory in his front yard and just gave up, lying down waiting for Brandon to free her. Damn dogs.   

And then it happened. 
Right after BC looked a Beach in the fading light and gasped, "You are really going to be 13 next month? A real teenager. Wow..." He looked to me. I nodded. The raising of this child, the only true contract between us. Our family is growing old.

Beach moving out from under the gravity of parents silent conversation and out of habit tossed the old dog a stick. Not far, and it was more a twig than a stick but he leaped forward, lost his footing, and all 4 of his feet slip out from under him in different directions. 

He laid sprawled on the trail like a baby giraffe until BC helped him back up.   

So we turned off the trail taking a shortcut back to the car. Beach trying to hide her disappointment at the sudden change in plans.  

A few yards from the tracks the gates dropped as a train buzzed by. The trains always remind me of Kilo, who had come here from Knab to be my dog but he died in the road only a year after adopting him.  Hit and killed by a passing car.  He was always so afraid of the trains.  

Kilo was to have replaced Gypsie, a beautiful white dog too mean to keep as a pet. Gypsie had also intended to be mine. Moses outlived them all.  So when we adopted Little Dog I gave her to Beach in hopes of a better outcome.      

BC sighed as the train gates raised and the coast was clear, "Good timing."  

We had both had the same thought; if a train had come by when the dog was crossing there would have been nothing we could have done to call him.  Nearly deaf and mostly blind it would have been a bad ending to a beautiful life.  

At the car BC as he has been doing all summer, gently lifted his dog into the back.  It is all in BC's hands, it is his dog and it will be on his time frame. But from here to that moment is a man's tribute to a dog's life.  A victory lap without any of the running. 

A family with their dog strolling through his sunset.

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