L i f e W i t h D o g
She is seven and a half years old now, with much grey in her muzzle, and we think she is having some problem with her teeth, or a tooth, as she isn’t as eager to bite into her treats or carrots as she used to be. Living with her for all but the first four and half months of her doggy life, we know her well. Her many personalities. Sharing my days with her all day every day as I work from my home office, I know when she will come over to me at my desk and inform me it is time for her lunch or dinner. She is at the same time entirely predictable and completely unknowable.
Why does she decide that it is time now to move from the couch to the door, but no, not quite what she has in mind; to the doggie mat in my office, then to the steps. She is restless. She probably needs to go out but if I open the door and let her poke her little leather nose out to sniff the rain, she will turn away. In snow she will run out wildly and roll around in it and jet propel herself across the yard with abandon. Rain only makes her wet. I always imagine that the weight of her wet fur is what annoys her.
She has a way of looking so pathetic, so world-weary, that I feel I want to weep right along with her. I must console her. But as soon as I change my position to pet her, she changes hers, and that look disappears and all is right with her world again.
She is so teachable that I am embarrassed by her bad behavior, though she is stubborn, and certainly not as eager to please as a Lab. I know what it takes to get her to do my bidding but sometimes I don’t have the time or energy. She is not a dog who learns her lessons “once and for all.” They say the Pomeranian was bred down from the large, Nordic, sled dogs, and their intelligence honed for decision-making. If the command, “Mush!” would result in a foray over thin ice, the dog must disobey for the good of all. I am supposed to believe that this is why she hesitates when I command her to “Sit!” A command she knows well. Perhaps to sit right now, in the kitchen, as I prepare her meal...perhaps there is a danger I cannot perceive. I don’t know. Only she knows. I can almost hear the clockworks of her lemon-sized brain grinding to a conclusion. (One I will never be privy to.)
But love her we do. Our dedication to her well-being is out of all proportion to her physical self which is only around 9 pounds underneath the bush that is her fur. Our joy at her very existence does not wane. When we tell her to go up to bed (around 9, her bedtime) she does so. But first she looks at us to ask if we intend to come to bed also. When we don’t, she goes hesitantly upstairs, stopping at the top and turning around with a last pleading look. But I stay behind. Half an hour later she comes back to join me on the couch as I read, having decided that I may be staying up later than she expected. If I do come up I will find her on her back, her paws twitching in her dog dream, her head tilted to one side, with her eyes half closed. My arrival will cause her to open those eyes and then watch, expectantly, in case I decide not to retire. She will rouse herself from a semi-stupor to complete alertness instantly. But, unlike when she was a pup, once she is comfortable, she might not just leap out of bed at the chance to go out.
She is getting older. We see it in her temperament and her teeth and her bones. It is sadder even than watching myself grow older. This unspoken love we share is so fragile on this huge, random planet that it sometimes strikes me as pure folly to indulge in it. And of all the silent mysteries I wonder about her, the only thing I know for sure is that she is mine only briefly. There will be one last time I feed her, bathe her, watch her twitchy dreaming. What gives me solace is knowing that she will not know it. What torments me is that I will.
Copyright 2018 Rachel A Levine