We find ourselves in a difficult place these days, in terms of our doggie parenting. Our old Tucker, the Wolf King, is winding down in his last days. He slowly wanders into the edge of the woods when we take him for his very short walks. He stands in the ferns, looking out into the places where he used to run. He breathes deeply, lifting his old white nose toward the sky. He closes his eyes, sighs, then turns to look back at us.
“Remember?” His brown eyes shine for a moment with the memory of freedom and youth. He sighs again, and turns slowly back toward the house.
We go inside. He lies down. We pat his head, and sit beside him.
But at the very same time, we are faced with the youthful exuberance of our puppy, Lennie the Devil Dog.
Lennie is joy in the form of a mutt. He wakes up every morning with the overwhelming desire to lick our faces free of every sleepy molecule. His next best wish is to have his back scratched and his ears rubbed, hopefully at the same time.
He wiggles hi entire body, from his nose to his tail, waiting for one of us to stand up. He is overjoyed when we do.
He runs. He jumps. He tries to lick our chins. He whines. He dances. He begs to go out. He begs to chase the birds.
He bites the leash, digs in the yard, whirls in circles, pounces on his doggie pals.
He is energy overpowering self-control. Excitement over contentment. He is competitive wrestling instead of walking in the woods.
So how do we tame him? How do we make some peace between our wild child and our brave old man?
One of our strategies is to take him with us on trips.
So today Lennie the Devil Dog came with me on a two hour trip to Western Massachusetts, to the gritty working class town of North Adams. I handed him off to my son and his lady, and went to get some work done.
When I came back two hours later, Lennie had been to the dog park. He had walked around the city. He had met new people and new dogs, and had sniffed his way from one side of town to the other.
He was hot. He was tired. He was thirsty.
Lennie had spent some quality time with other young souls, and he had found his place. Lennie was supremely and gloriously happy.
Tonight I am sitting in my living room. Old Man Tucker is resting on the deck, his noble gray nose on his paws.
Lennie the Devil dog is passed out on the rug beside me, his twitching paws and muffled yips a testament to the excitement of the day.
There’s nothing like it.
And it’s exhausting.