January 28, 2011

Old Puppy Love

Sterling is old.

15 72 old with bad teeth and a wise, knowing look.  She's the age where Kennel Cough is a fun thing to say and treat, but which most likely isn't the problem.  Sterling is also at the age where I'm not sure I have the funding or the stamina to ever find out what the likely problem IS.

So, instead we carry on with the present moment; pretending that her sudden display of overt affection toward me or her just as sudden vomiting attacks are the typical hum-drum moments that have made up our life together over the years.

We have a quiet deal going down and while paw and hand have never shook on it, we both just know.

Only rarely do we step away from this arrangement and when we do, it's gotta be for something good.  Sterling would agree with me that watching our neighbor's puppy each wintry weekend brings on a good occasion to pause and reflect rather than continually soldiering forward.

I'm grateful I'm old enough to know this and have a bit of Sterling's wisdom to appreciate it because even that puppy is wiser than me.  I see her playing with her slightly older brother and it brings me right back to the first days, months, years with Sterling.

I remember fighting nail and tooth to prove to the Humane Society that I, at 19 and living in a house full of college girls, was a fit candidate for adoption and I remember the glorious day I finally won that battle.  As we snuggled down that first night, and for each night thereafter, I sang Sterling Moss her own private lullaby.

I remember the day she ate a bag of Oreos and the spring in her step when gallivanting with any number of the canines I would dogsit.  She served as our college track mascot for a while and had a great party trick, even at 6 months, to limp on command. Where she learned to do that I have no idea.

On and on I watch these memories, each washing back to right here with the flick of this puppy's tail.

The present moment really is a fine place to be and, painful or not, I cradle the acuteness of my relationship with my eldest dog.  Most days are good, some are not and this is how it is at the end of a well-lived life.

I wish Sterling each new day's sun for as long as she can receive it.  Mostly, if this is the song of her final lullaby, I want her to know every word by heart. 

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