Old dog sleeps longer than me now. I hear him, as I write at my desk in the morning, begin to shuffle the sheets. Even before I acknowledge him I can feel his eyes on me. I turn and wave. Words between us are no longer necessary.
He could probably make it down the steps on his own but I carry him, calling to my husband for help as I reach the gate set up at the foot of the staircase to keep puppy from traveling up.
I kick the screen door open with my foot as I maneuver Mr. Sam’s 48.3 pounds on my hip. We travel down the small hill together and I place him carefully on our little lawn as he finds his legs, giving him a kiss on the head.
“That’s a good boy,” I hear myself say as I have said for 352 days x 15 plus 42 more. He can’t hear them but he looks up at me as though he can. I take a seat on the steps so he doesn’t feel rushed.
Old dog stares off into space, sensing, I’m certain, his days of stomping through snow and sprinting after scurrying squirrels.
He sniffs at the wind and begins his circling which will eventually lead to taking a seat. I am reminded of my father sitting down in a chair.
Old dog slowly crouches to the ground, waiting for his legs to bend at the joints. He stops midway, shifts, then proceeds to lower his trunk onto the porch bricks beside me.
I sip my coffee and stare off into space…
“Was that your white dog?” someone yells as I run down the street. “He’s about eight blocks that a way, chasing a fox!” Yeh! That’s my dog,” I yell back over my shoulder.
Yeh, he’s my old dog, Mr. Sam.
I wait every year to see the first burst of red leaves against the brilliant fall blue sky. I haven’t seen it yet, but yellow and orange are everywhere. The trees will soon burst into red as if blushing in beauty over their work well done before they prepare to depart.
There’s much to learn from trees in the fall, when even the air seems imbued with gold, as they reach their full glory colors.
And these, too, are old dog’s glory days. I’ve witnessed them before, when time taps a shoulder to say goodbye to all this.
When the bare bones of earth lay silent in ice, see how the glistening white teases your senses to a place where, like spring, it is all covered in Light; where the angels sing, “Glory to God,” and we burst forth with new Life!
Maybe that’s what old dog senses as he stares off into space?