Today, a first happened.
My dog Dinah was so asleep in her lambswool bed that she did not wake up when I came down to fetch my coffee. I say “fetch” because it seems to go with the theme of this journal entry…the tenderness of an old dog as told by an older girl, myself.
I padded over to the coffee pot, poured my cup, added a little vanilla creamer and started ever so gingerly by her bed, hoping to check my email and read the bad news before feeding her. However, while her hearing might be less acute than in her puppy days, her nose is working at full capacity; that is, a Labrador’s nose is legendary for bomb sniffing, human flesh sniffing and dropped crumb-of -cracker sniffing.
Coffee is food, you know, so Dinah awoke with a start, quite surprised to see me. Our normal routine is this: she is waiting at the foot of the stairs, and has been waiting, for many minutes listening for me to open our bedroom door. Click. She hears the dead bolt. Then, tail begins banging the wall and bladder (hers) flexes once again. Out the front door she goes, flying almost to her spot on our gopher-dug lawn to “do her business.” Thankfully, there were no skunks, bobcats, or deer on the lawn this morning.
Then, she rushes back into the house in a starvation frenzy until…she realizes that the flooring has changed (remodel). That solid floor of adobe tile is now a light porcelain material and has become something scary, unstable, and watery to her. She freezes. Baring her nails, she tries to move four shaky legs across the entry tile.
“Come on,” I say. “Do you want your breakfast or not? “The word breakfast trumps her floor fear and she straightens herself out, picking her way now to the garage door as if she is walking on cactus.
There, in the shadow of the water heater, she inhales her 1.5 cups of kibble in less than 30 seconds even though she has only a few good teeth left. Although her teeth are sparse from chewing rocks, her tongue is an Olympic star, which she uses to lick the doughnut-shaped bowl again and again and again until she is positive there is not one piece of food left. This entire process takes a minute.
Back into the house she flies, until her paws tell her she is on a weird and unidentifiable surface, one capable of swallowing her up like quicksand. By now, my coffee has cooled, so into the microwave it goes too. I’m happy to report that I have not developed any odd idiosyncracies in my advancing years.
The routine of it all we sometimes take for granted. The act of airing and feeding an old dog, of pouring hot coffee, of adding luscious creamer, of cheerily encouraging her (or a toddler 40 years ago) to ” do her business.”
We forget that the precious moments of our lives are in the everyday occurrences, just as Thornton Wilder reminded us of in his play ” Our Town.”