(This was written a couple of weeks back)
The nights will very soon become too warm for walking and I will miss it. But when I got home last night it was down in the sixties which meant very few mosquitoes and it meant that the dogs were pretty much jacked up about me being home. I opened the back door and for the first time ever, Lilith sailed, flew, took off the back steps from the top as if she was wearing a jet pack. She hit the ground at full speed and Lucas gave chase. I followed if for no other reason than to see what would happen next.
The half-moon was so bright I kept looking at it as if my eyes were deceiving me. Such light had to come from a full moon. I walked out into the silver light and heard the L hounds cutting back across the back acre and they came into view still running as hard as they could. The depression were the firepit is was flood a couple of days ago and the water there is still ankle deep but Lilith hit it at a dead run. Silver sparkles of light flashed and right behind her Lucas lumbered in leaving his own glowing wake. The celebration of my return was in full swing. I’m home four hours later than normal so let’s throw a water party, shall we?
Lilith has learned that she can beat Lucas on the flat out in the open run, but she loves to out maneuver him in the woods. There are twin trees, joined at the base, where she will dart in and out and in between, a black and white specter made entirely of the lithe and speed. She runs wide circles and she dares Lucas to try to cut her off at any given point. Lucas cannot hope to match her agility but he can gain some ground in the open and if he can catch her he can knock her down and pin her, but he rarely does. Lucas loves being the chaser when she runs and he loves playing the part of prey once they engage. Lucas rolls over on his back, feet in the air, and Lilith leaps upon him, snarling and growling, as she attacks. They haven’t done this in the water yet, but it’s coming, it’s coming.
Sam watches all of this and once upon a time he would follow at a distance but now he doesn’t even do that. Lilith has learned that very few things that she does will draw my ire like crashing into her much older brother. She’s one of the more polite dogs I have ever lived with. She doesn’t like making a fuss or bothering me and when she first arrived she nearly never approached me to be petted. I think Lilith spent most of her early life in a crate like a CD that isn’t played very much, just gathering dust and being there. It’s taken a while for her to get used to the idea that who she is as a person is more than enough reason for us to love her. She vies for attention now, not often mind you, but she will spring up on my leg to say, “Hi! Love me!” on occasion.
The end begins when you start having to carry a dog around instead of that dog walking. Sam moves so stiffly and so slowly sometimes I carry him just to save time. But Sam weighs in at sixty something pounds. There is no way I can keep lifting that much weight that often and hope that my health and his health won’t suffer. Bert hated being carried and he growled at me every single time I picked him up. Sam has resigned himself to it. That’s what Sam has done for most of his life; just taken whatever came his way in whatever form it took.
The interaction between very young dogs and very old dogs has to be managed and I’m not there all the time. I might have to pen Sam up but that’s not exactly a long term plan, is it? We humans have done remarkably poorly when trying to manage our own species when it comes to aging and I cannot help but wonder if there is a time when a bit of mercy wouldn’t be the answer. It would be for me. If I get to decide then I will. I’m making that decision for me, now, if it will take, and I may have to make it for Sam.
There was a time in his life Sam loved to eat. From the day I found him, beaten, starved, emaciated, and close to death in the woods, Sam and food have had a love affair that bordered on obsession. Watching Sam eat was a reminder of the pure joy found in simple meals. When Sam got a can of wet food or something special it was like watching a kid on Christmas morning. Sam actually danced with joy when he saw me haul in the fifty pound bag of dog food. In Sam’s eyes this was life. And now, Sam has stopped eating.
Wet food, dry food with water, wet food with bread in it, and honestly, bread is Sam’s favorite food on earth, it doesn’t matter anymore. Sam is disinterested. I can coax him into eating but he doesn’t eat nearly as much as he once did. His weight is headed back down again and there doesn’t seem to be much that can be done about that, either.
The spot where I buried Bert is underwater right now and it is likely to stay there for a few months. I have no idea if Sam has that kind of time. Once again, as always, the clock is ticking away for Sam. Hours or maybe even minutes from death nearly thirteen years ago, Sam is slipping back towards the darkness he has seen before. But it has been a very good thirteen years for Sam. He’s been well fed, well cared for, has slept on a bed most of his life, has his own chair now, and Sam has known love for each moment of those years.