I may not be the smartest person in the world, but I certainly never thought I’d be outwitted by a dog.
Miss Sadie, I’ve got your number now, you old fake.
Yesterday I woke up on the late side. My old girl, Miss Sadie, was sound asleep on the floor by my bed. This is not unusual; she seems to consider herself my elderly bodyguard and she usually sleeps next to me. What happened next, though, was definitely out of character.
I got up, as usual, and creaked and groaned my way into the bathroom. Now, the usual routine is that once I get in there, I hear Sadie’s long black toenails clicking their way toward me, followed by a long sigh and a “whump” as her big old butt hits the closed door. This time, I went through my morning ablutions (great word, huh?) and showered. When I came out, my old girl was still sound asleep beside the bed.
I went into the kitchen to make breakfast. I usually have to scoot both of my dogs out of the kitchen at least three times while the coffee drips and the toast pops. Not today. Tucker hovered around, hinting about how delicious that rye bread smelled, but there was no sign of Sadie. I went to look for her, and found her curled up behind the end table in the living room.
Now I was getting worried. I coaxed her out with a piece of cheese, and stroked her warm fur. “You OK, sweet pea?”, I cooed. “You feeling alright, old girl?” She licked my fingers and looked up at me with her huge brown eyes. Poor old doggie, poor old girl! Her big fluffy tail thumped a few times on the floor, but she quickly laid herself back down.
I thought maybe her arthritic leg might be hurting her. Maybe it would be a good idea to take a short walk?
Gently, kindly, I put the leashes on both dogs, and walked them very slowly down the front steps. Sadie walked sedately by my side down the walk and onto the driveway. She followed along all the way down the street, not pulling on the leash or trying to chase squirrels.
Wicked odd. My worry increased, my heart sank.
Dogs don’t have very long lives; I know this. I know that mine are getting old, but it breaks my heart to even think about that fact. Tucker doesn’t see well any more. He has back cramps and weak back legs. He goes for acupuncture. Really.
Sadie doesn’t hear well any more. She doesn’t notice visitors until they get right to the door and knock. She jumps up and barks if I drop a book. She moves slowly around the house. She rolls onto her side to show her belly if you try to pat her.
In short, I have begun to see myself as living with two elderly and slightly pitiful old canines companions. I am very tender with them. I don’t make many demands. I feed them glucosamine and fish oil tablets wrapped in American cheese. I swab their ears to keep them clean. Every night I gently brush their teeth and massage their gums.
So when Sadie seemed particularly pitiful yesterday, I chalked it up to her advanced age. We walked around the neighborhood, slowly, enjoying the warm air and birdsong. I was heading back toward home when I realized that Tucker had “done his business” but Sadie still hadn’t. H’mmmmm. Maybe the problem was constipation? It can happen to older people. I mean, “older dogs”.
Anyway. I decided to let Sadie off the leash so that she could rustle around in her favorite spot in the woods for a few minutes. Maybe she’d feel better, poor old thing. I leaned down and unclipped her leash. She raised her head slowly. Her tail swished once. “Thanks, Mom.”, she seemed to say. Then she slowly and unsteadily made her way into the woods.
Tucker and I headed toward home, knowing that the old girl would catch up to us once her job was done. We walked along the street, then headed down the driveway. Slowly.
No Sadie yet.
I got all the way to the end of my driveway, ready to start up the walk toward the front door. I looked across the yard, but didn’t see my poor old girl.
“Sadie!”, I called. “Come on, Miss Sadie!”
I waited for a moment.
And here she came! Running full speed across the yard, her big plume of a tail arched gracefully behind her. She leapt over the tiger lillies, arched over the irises, sped across the grass. He eyes were shining, her mouth was open in a wide doggie grin. She came on full speed, and when she got to us, she ran a full circle around Tucker and me, barking and leaping. Dancing.
Laughing at me and my worries.
I’ve got your number now, you old fake of a guard dog.
Either all that moping around is a total act, or that was one hell of a restorative poop.