Saturday, November 3, 2007

When All Is Right

The early morning autumn sun in Western Kentucky starts out bashful and timid, but by eleven or so, it cheers up. We peel layers, the dogs and I. My skinny sleek-coated built for speed canines have a hard time staying warm when the temperature dips below fifty. So they wear coats. If they are running, the coats are unnecessary, cumbersome, silly. But for leashed walking or getting in a cold van or hanging around outside for human chatter, they are mandatory.
There was a frost this morning, but now I have shed my jacket and sweater and all but the oldest dogs have been relieved of their coats. We drove out to the country to chase toys and each other; to run and run. I can be worried about my world, I can be walking with heavy shoulders and constant sighs. I can feel like I've wasted my life, like I have no talent, like I've done no good. Until my dogs start running and playing on a perfect day in the country and they grin at me as they run past and I am on top of my world.

I've brought my Very Old Dog. He is too fragile at thirteen and a half to rough house with the youngsters. Spinal stenosis divorces his legs from his will. I know he wants to rip and tear and teach those pups just how to run. I know he remembers what it felt like to run like poetry. Eyes shining while legs harmonize with the wind, lungs and heart filling, pumping, smiling and the whole world blurs by in awe.

I keep his leash on while the youngsters cavort. They swoop too close and I yell, "Hey! Watch out!" and they laugh at me and cut even closer on the next pass. I can feel the Very Old Dog's heart beating in the leash in my hand perfectly, as though the leash itself were arterial. His valves are leaky and the big old muscle has to work harder than ever. Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. His ears are standing straight up at attention and he barely whines with each exhale: "Let me go, let me go, let me run like I used to, let me go."

I am tempted.

My dear friends arrive, and they offer to hold the young 'uns on leads.

"Sure. Why not."

I leave Sam I Am loose; he's old enough to be sensible, and he's polite by nature. I hold my breath as Very Old Dog and Sam I Am play tug with a de-stuffed toy. "Be careful of your neck, you silly Old Dog." I silently entreat the Old Dog gods to look out for him. It is so beautiful today. I have even taken off his coat. He is smiling as he wins the toy. Sam I Am is so gracious.

And then Very Old Dog takes off. His stride, once the simple picture of ground eating perfection, is all kattywonkus. (Oh Lord, don't fall down.) Sam I Am feels my concern and looks at me, worried. Very Old Dog feels nothing but the grass under his toes and the sun in his great big heart.

He pulls up to me wagging.

And every single thing in my world is right.


  1. I am not crying. I'M NOT!!

    OK. I'm crying.

    Would you please pick Very Old Dog up and squish him very gently for me?

    You know, I dreamt I dognapped the waggle last night. At least, I think I must have dognapped them because I seemed to have a car full of whippets. That'll teach me to read your blog just before I go to sleep won't it!!?

  2. Where's the Kleenex...

  3. I tear up everytime Mallory, my 13 yr old suddenly runs back to the house when I take her out. I wonder how many more times she will be able to do a zoomy. Please give Very Old Dog a hug from friends in Maryland.

    Linda, Daydream Hounds

  4. Patience,
    That was a very sweet tribute to Very Old Dog. Fling is going to be 13 in March and due to her back injury in January '06 she's also wonky when wunning, er I mean running... These days she's doing a bit better on metacam but she has to do more of a bunny hop when running. Unfortunately the youngsters don't always pay attention when zipping past her.

  5. Please give Old Dog and Sam I am and All the Rest a big hug from muzzer. Sorry, gotta go find her Kleenex box.


    ps. Why do you-mans need so much Kleenex when they read?

  6. oh, gulp! what a lovely post. i too can be very low (and lately very, very low) and just watching joker running on teh beach lifts my spirits again. dogs have no idea of the huge gift they give us every day.

  7. Aww... I just adore that picture of Giacomino running.. Thank you SO much for sharing.

    Pugs'n hugs,
    Ane & the WriggleButts

  8. Hey there, thx for dropping by my blog.

    My MaMa is quite a story teller too! She helps me with my blog & please do ignore the nasty things she says about us. She can be quite a drama queen. Then again, the good things she mentions are all true! hehehe...

    Hope to see you around more often. Will have MaMa read to me your blog entries!

  9. What a sweetheart you have in Sam I Am! It sounds like you all had a very good time. :D

    You make aging okay. I've never had a dog grow old. The ones I had growing up had to be given away (landlord), and since then, ours haven't been around for longer than 4 years! And in Achilles I found my soul dog. He's my perfect companion and I love him very much... I catch myself worrying about what I'll do when he goes. But reading your posts on Giacomino make me feel better and remind me that there can still be good times when he gets older. Thank you.

  10. I can totally relate...beautiful post, Patience!

  11. Oh, Patience,you did it again. Please do not EVER feel you are not talented! i don't know what I'd do w/o your blog;makes up for finishing "Mama Pajama" so quickly-hugs to all-Martha and Phantom

  12. Siiiiiiggggghhhhh...great post! My heart is heavy, but yet light. Thanks for bringing me back to the real reality! Woofs, Johann

  13. Thanks for the visit, Patience! We had a mouse encounter of our own today. Couldn't help but think about you ;)


  14. I didn;t know weathew Mommi was smiling ow cwying ow both..youw stowies touch us! Mommi says she knows exactly how you feel..what joy,what wowwy..bootiful!
    thank you fow youw concewn,I'm much bettew today, and we'll put the wecipe up tonight ow tomowwow,OK?
    I think you had a pawfect day! smoochie kisses to the whippet waggle

  15. What a great story, it made Mom's eyes all leaky!

  16. What a wonderful post! We never realize just how precious those zoomies are until the latter years approach.

    Thanks for helping us take a moment to appreciate our sweet hounds.

    Kathy and Star the Wonder Dog

  17. Oh Patience,
    I don't know what to say. So beautiful, so sensitive, so caring, just all the things that Patience is!
    Yes, you've got me crying again.
    Sheila & Lady

  18. What a wonderful posting! Us older dogs are the sweetest and bestest! That's what mom says!

    Love ya lots,

  19. Oh Patience you brought tears to our eyes !
    Mommy feels that way when she sees me sleeping with my eyes shut and she feels at peace she says

  20. That was a really beautiful story, and I am beginning to appreciate how you must feel every day as my Sophie Brador gets more and more stiff. She has what amounts to dysplasia in her shoulders and limps pretty badly after just a walk. She's only eight now. I'm sure that run was a fantastic moment for Very Old Dog.


  21. Thanks for your well wishes for my birthday!
    Thanks too for this great post! There is no doubt how much you love your furkids!
    Have a good night

  22. Oh, Patience! This made me miss my own Very Old Dog even more. We don't realize how much our lives revolve around the creakies until they are gone.

    I am smiling and crying both at your post and from the memories of Miss Kitty it conjured up.

    Annie and the Ragtag Horde

  23. What a great story...

    We found you guys through DWB and wanted to say hello. :)

  24. Oh my hell, I knew I shouldn't have read that story. Now my eyes are leaking all over the place. I miss my two very old dogs so much. Give your Very Old Dog an extra belly rub from me. And pass the kleenex.


  25. Oh my hell, I knew I shouldn't have read that story. Now my eyes are leaking all over the place. I miss my two very old dogs so much. Give your Very Old Dog an extra belly rub from me. And pass the kleenex.


  26. Ah, Patience...we were there with you as Very Old Dog ran. Your words create perfect pictures of his thoughts and deeds....

    And it makes us all either remember our very old dogs...or run to them and give them that gentle hug...


  27. Oh Patience! You have such a way with words! My 15-1/2 yo Bridget is the same way. I make time for her every day to take her out by herself or with Skinny Marie to jog around the yard. Every once in awhile, she even scares up a rabbit which pleases her no end.

    But at the end of her lap around the yard, she comes up the ramp (yes, we have a handicapped ramp just for the old un's who can't do steps any longer) with tongue hanging and a huge grin on her face.

    Sometimes her rear gets ahead of her front and she ends up in a pile, so I have to go pick her up and set her right with the feet in 4 corners. Then she takes off again. I hurt for her when she falls like that, but since she goes again right away, she must not be too dismayed by her tumbles.

    Give VOD a big hug from a cyber-auntie.



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