Actually, the old dog is named Tucker.
He has a bad back. And an arthritic neck. We have to use a special leash to walk him, because we can’t use anything that will pull on his spine.
We take him for acupuncture once a month.
Every morning, he gets a glucosamine/chondroitin tablet wrapped in American cheese. At night, there is a dose of fish oil in his kibble.
He sleeps on an orthopedic dog bed. When he seems particularly achy, we put a hot pack on his lower back.
You get the idea.
Poor old dog.
The other day, I was out walking both of my old dogs. We were coming along the street, slowly, sniffing and peeing (well, I wasn’t sniffing and peeing; the dogs were). Suddenly, they both stopped, standing stiff legged in the grass. They were both peering along the street, back the way we had come.
Oh, oh. Was it a deer? A bear? A flock of stupid turkeys?
Nope. My neighbor’s puppy had gotten out of the yard, and stood at attention at the end of his driveway.
Now this little guy is Tucker’s absolute twin, only 8 years younger. They both came from the same rescue shelter. Both are hound dog mutts from Virginia. The little guy, Ruger, was quivering with delight at the thought of meeting his big neighbors.
My neighbor, Ruger’s Mommy, came running up the driveway, and we spent a pleasant few minutes letting the dog’s growl and bark and sniff each other’s butts. Then I had to go, because I was late for work.
But this morning we made a puppy play date, and took all three dogs for a nice walk. Ruger pranced and danced and pulled his owner along with enthusiasm. My old dogs walked sedately and slowly. By the time we covered the entire block, Ruger was still dancing and full of energy, but Tucker and Sadie had their heads down and their tongues out. We came back to our house, and let all three dogs into our fenced-in yard. The humans sat down for a cup of coffee, and we let the dogs have at it.
Holy rejuvenation! Ruger was absolutely 100% determined to play, to goad the old folks into chasing him. He ran up the deck steps, down the deck steps, in the doggie door, out the doggie door, around the yard, under the bushes and back up the deck steps. To my total amazement, old Tucker kept right up, barking the whole time.
I haven’t seen my gimpy old guy run full speed for two years, but today, he raced around like a kid. He barked, he lunged, he chased, he jumped. He pushed the puppy down, then ran away while the puppy chased him. He tussled with Sadie, and they both chased the puppy up and down the stairs.
Finally, after about an hour of full-out play, my old guys started to get grumpy. They began to growl when Ruger approached. The tried to hide under the table, only to have him find them there. They went inside, and I closed the screen to keep the puppy out. They clearly needed a rest and a chance to recuperate.
But guess what? Within a minute, Tucker was at the door, whining to come back out. I opened the door, and he went right after Ruger. And of course the puppy pounced, ready to play. Tucker barked once, hard, bared his teeth, and tried to push the pup away. The humans all decided that it was time to end the visit, and Ruger and his Mommy headed home.
The messages from Tuck were both mixed and clear. “I love being around you, youngster! You bring out my most energetic and youthful self! Whooo-hooo! Let’s play!” and “Give me a break! I’m exhausted! You kids just don’t know when to settle down and give it a rest!”
I understood him completely.
I feel exactly the same way about going back to school.