Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Old Dogs And Young Dreams

A few weeks ago, Amy had the folks who fixed our foundation several years back come by because a door is sticking in our bedroom and we've noticed some new cracks in the walls. This is not uncommon in South Texas. The thick black clay soil expands and shrinks in between periods of floods and drought. However we paid a lot of money to the foundation folks so they are essentially at our beckon call for life and we plan to get our money's worth.

The guy who came out assured Amy that our house isn't falling down and that things are simply shifting a bit, but no foundation work is required. However he also took a look at our back patio which his crew "patched" in the original job and saw how their handiwork had held up. It looked like the aftermath of a small California earthquake. Amy honestly feared we might lose one of our smaller dogs in the holes that have appeared. This thought had crossed my mind too; although I'm not quite certain we would share the same sense of loss should it happen.

At first the guy apparently shrugged and walked away, but a few minutes later he was ringing the doorbell saying, "I think we could have done a better job on that patio, I'm gonna send a crew out to re-do it."

I wasn't home, but Amy will admit she did not conceal the fact that she has been hooked up to IV's, has been in and out of the hospital, is unemployed and taking numerous medications. I'm fairly certain she never got around to mentioning my existence either. Whether that contributed to the fellow's guilt I know not, but I do know there was a crew here today re-patching our patio.

That was nice...but it also meant our big dog, the one we don't risk losing down a hole in the patio, could not simply be let outside. 90 pounds of lab on fresh cement would leave a mark.

So I decided to take Klondike on a "drag" in lieu of my usual walking routine. Klondike is fairly docile inside the house...he may sniff you in places you deem inappropriate or lick you to get your attention (for future reference, an unexpected dose of well placed saliva is always an attention getter ), but that's about the extent of his activity.

Put a leash on him though...and he turns into Maniacal Mutt!

He's 9 years old and has a harder time getting up in the morning, but a leash is like a cocktail of Viagra and electro shock therapy. He forgets his age, his limitations and is pretty much focused on one thing....let's run.

Every once in a while I think maybe he's finally gotten old enough where he'll simply walk with me, but I'm always wrong...he wants to run...if I give in and run with him, he wants to run faster...so it's sort of like dog skiing, without skis or snow or any sense of control...or for that matter any sense at all. He pulls, I pull back and a dynamic forms reminiscent of a mutated version of the creature from Dr. Doolittle ...a Push-Me-Pull-You...on steroids.

He dragged me for about a mile and a half before he finally started showing his age...at the 2 mile mark he began to give me looks I interpreted as his desire to be reassured we weren't running away from home and there was a comfortable carpet or cool tile in our future...preferably our near future. At 2 and a half miles he started wandering into well manicured yards and I could almost read his mind, "this would be a nice spot for a nap don't ya think?"

But at the three mile mark he was dragging me again...home was in sight and he was fixated again albeit with changed priorities. All he wanted was to get inside the house, drink some fresh water and plop down on the cool tile floor.

Klondike is getting old. Tonight I gave him a baby aspirin (he usually gets one in the morning, but I gave him an extra tonight because I could tell he was aching a bit more than usual).

It's sort of sad watching the vitality drain from your pets and their failure or refusal to recognize it.

Then again, I've grabbed for the aspirin or ibuprophen bottle a few times more often in recent years myself.

I suppose we simply have to face it, for man or beast, the recognition we're growing old can occasionally be a real drag.

Yet casting common sense aside, the enjoyment of running at full tilt is often worth it.