I love living with my old dog. Small things he does make me laugh but can also rip my heart out. As I write this it’s 3:58pm. Bubba is staring me in the eye and whining/complaining. Technically, dinner time is at 5. Anyone who knows Bubba, however, knows he thinks rules are optional.
In the 10 years I’ve had him we’ve practiced how to take liver treats gently from a hand. He’s never totally complied. I know he knows the right way, it just doesn’t fit his plan. He seems to naturally get how far to push me and he’s become better at it with age. If he perceives we’ve been at work too long he barks at me in what can only be described as an irritated tone. Heaven forbid dinner be later than 5:01.
About 20 minutes after he eats he’ll start in on me again. He’s ready for bed. Since his cancer surgery I’ve let him sleep under the covers with me at night. Now, no fluffy blanket, no plush dog bed, no couch will do. It’s my bed or nothing. Giant groans escape him should he find the down mattress cover not properly plumped when he settles. It makes me giggle. He snuggles right next to me at night and lets out a happy sigh. I tell myself that no one will love me like he does.
But he’s vexing too. I’ve written about his anxiety when he doesn’t know where I am. Apparently this is only a problem in the house. Today we were out in the yard and he decided to take off for the neighbors. I have an invisible fence and he’s not done this in front of me in years. I had to chase him back to the yard. I dug out the invisible fence collar, put in a fresh battery and walked the perimeter with him. At first I kept the probe tips covered so he would only hear the beep and turn away from the boundary lines. He was ignoring the beep and I realized he can’t hear it anymore. So I had to remove the cover and let him a get a shock at the fence line instead. Ugh. It broke my heart, I haven’t had to do that since I trained him. Losing hearing is a normal part of canine aging. Sometimes I view it as irritating when I can’t get his attention, today it was poignant.
Funny or sad, everything we do together has more meaning to me, even the most prosaic. Heading off to emergencies, playing at the dog park, riding in the car on errands. I try to breathe in every day we have together. I wonder if he knows how I feel.
In case you wondered I held out until 4:12pm. Then I broke down and fed him early. Big sigh.