The dog of the house had grown used to lounging around without much purpose any more. Usually he spent his days investigating his yard, finding the most comfortable spot on the couch, and begging for food when it was available. Stretching was a highlight of his interactions with others and he would slowly crawl out of his comfortable position and extend into a full body downward dog pose in front of those who had awaken him from his deep slumber. He peeled himself off the ground slowly, as that is all his old bones will allow and stretched into a walking position with his joints appearing to strain with the movement of the old man who was kept locked up too often.
He remembers the times when he would run the trails every day and had a daily patrol of his neighborhood. He has a young spring in his step when he is reunited with the trees and the earth that he grew up playing in, but there is something so old about him now. He can appear to be a puppy again at times, but he is slowly getting older and it is slowly beginning to show. He seems to creak when he moves and need time to warm up his fragile body. He moves cautiously now and slower than before so that his human friends could actually keep up and he can take in more scents and scenery. He used to move erratically and all over the place, searching for the squirrel that he smelled hints of on a tree, darting in, out and over the foliage of the forest and barely allowing it to slow him down. He used to be young, free and full of more energy than I would ever possess. But times continues to pass and he continues to change in the slightest of ways.
“Good morning my handsome boy,” is my greeting for him every morning, where I find him cuddled up on the couch that I had vainfully tried to keep him off of. He had grown cocky with age however and would only stretch and wink at me in response before snuggling down even further into the cushions. The kinks in his legs seemed to not exist when cuddled up on the couch and he stretched and moved into curled up and contorted positions to continue on with his marathon like nap. He spent most of his day on the couch now versus on the trails. He seemed to fit in perfectly with both, however one made him look young beyond his years while the other made him appear ten years older than he actually is. In his old age he found comfort in copious amounts of rest and hours spent in the woods and he learned how to convey his need of both. He had always been a communicative dog, and I constantly reminded him to “Use his words” instead of do silly things like drink out of the toilet or pee in the house. If only he could use his words however, maybe he would tell his owner that he was bored now a days, and that despite his old age his was not entirely happy with spending entire days inside. Maybe he could tell his owner that keeping him locked up and bored would only make him older with time, while roaming on the trails and in the neighborhood kept him young. Maybe he would be able to share that daily walks would be good for both of them. He would say all kind of things, that I am sure of, but I think his first thought would be “I’m bored.” Sometimes he looks at me and that’s all I see written across his aging face. I do what I can to help ease him into his age and physical constraints, but I also do everything within my power to keep him young and moving. I know that sitting around without purpose makes me feel old and useless, and I can only imagine how useless a lazy herding dog feels without anything to herd. He does not receive excitement every day and there are those days when I cannot be bothered to entertain him or myself. But most days he reminds me to get outside and get out of my own head. He is my best friend and adventure partner and I do not know what I will do without him one day. So I do my best to keep him young and entertained. I do my best to take him out on trails and encourage him to say hello to other dogs. And I do my best to make up for the fact this his true best friend and owner had somehow forgotten what it took to take care of him. He had so much time and love invested in him when he was younger, that maybe his owner now feels that his work is done? Or maybe he just takes the companionship for granted and forgot to return the favor of loyalty and love. He began to take for granted the loyalty of his dog and his dog began to expect that adventures and exercise come from other people, not the one who owns him.
It is a shame that such an amazing and love filled dog is so neglected by the one person he unconditionally loves. It makes me sad that he is not paid the attention he requires any longer and I do my best to make up for it. Maybe I spoil him unnecessarily and he hurts less than I see in his eyes, but something tells me that he needs more attention than he is receiving. Something tells me that he has been ignored for too long. And while unemployed and sitting around at home, the very least I can do is get outside and stretch my legs with him. He keeps me healthy and I attempt to do the same in return. The trails will never be the same again without him, and I am to never lose my trail buddy as long as I can help it. He is not my dog to claim, but he is one of my best friends and I feel the compulsion to care for him all the same. I feel the heart wrenching desire to do all I can to make this old dog comfortable and live a happy last few years of his life. I hate to be morbid and say the end is near, but he is getting older and that is a reality that I cannot ignore for long.