Apparently yesterday was National Dog Day. I don’t know if this is a ‘real’ thing or some Facebook meme run rampant (notice that every week is mental health awareness week now?) and I don’t much care. Dogs are great, they shouldn’t have one day, they should get them all.
I’ve often wondered what it is about dogs that is just so good. I’ve had plenty of cats and some of them were good, but I never got the feeling that they actually liked me…they just wanted some scratches, food, or a soft spot to lay. A dog, on the other hand, just wants to be near you.
About a month ago I was sitting on a rock overlooking a valley. It was a warm afternoon and I was visualizing all the spring colors that would come with the lengthening days. I could practically hear the spring peepers peeping and the red-shouldered hawks screaming out “Kee-Yah Kee-Yah”. Fry, the older and larger hound, was sitting next to me. He had no idea what we were doing. He sat there, leaning back a little on his hips the way old dogs do, staring over the valley and occasionally smacking his lips for no discernible reason.
I realized on that day that I have never spent as much time with any critter, be it human or otherwise, as I have spent with Fry. I’ve thought about this a great deal since then. Mostly about what it means, I suppose.
Few people are really given the chance to spend as much time with another creature as I have spent with Fry over the last ten years. Homeschooling parents are about the only other instance I can think of. Dogs, particularly old dogs, have a vastly different disposition than human children though. Sometimes I think he has sort of become my Jiminy Cricket. I’ll look at a crevice and think “I bet I can jump over that” and then I’ll hear a rustling of the leaves behind me and turn to see a dour faced old hound advising me otherwise with only his deep amber eyes. I’ll be in traffic and someone will cut me off….the murder will come out in my eyes and then suddenly a big, square hound head will literally be on my shoulder reminding me that it’s not really a big deal at all.
Fry is turning into a silver faced dog, slowly but surely. He needs to be picked up and lifted into and out of my Jeep or any work trucks now. He’ll still try to make the jump given the chance, but more often than not he just can’t quite make it. If allowed to jump out he’ll limp around for an hour or so after (but not one of those limps for attention that some dogs do, this is more of an old man style “yeah, my leg fell off but you don’t need to make a big deal out of it, just go about your bidness”).
Much like my own grandmother, Fry does not trust any ramp I build and simply will not walk on it. I threw a big maple board down over our creek after intense rains scoured it out…he still won’t cross it. It’s wide, it doesn’t wobble, but nope, he’s not trusting that thing. I think this is probably due to the amount of times he’s heard me say “ahh, fuck it. I’m getting a beer.” I tried convincing him that I whole-assed it, but he’s not buying what I’m selling.
It’s interesting having one dog that’s relatively young and the other that’s old. Bender (the younger) is always up for an adventure. Fry wants to go, but generally can’t walk for more than about ten minutes without developing a pronounced limp. This often times mean two walks, one shorter with Fry and then we sneak back out with Bender for a longer walk or run while Fry rests. If I didn’t think he would hate every second of it I would fashion one of those backpack baby carriers and hoist his 90 lbs up on my shoulders for as long as I could take it.
These are the things we do for our dogs. Every single day. National Dog Day seems as ridiculous to me as Valentines Day. As if there was just this one day when you are supposed to appreciate one of the main focal points of your life? It’s absurd.
Now go hug your dogs, people. Chances are damn good that they deserve it.