Unlike your grand nephew, you didn’t throw up on the way home from your breeder – a strike in your favor I should have appreciated more at the time. It seems like for your entire nine years of life, you’ve been thinking of your human pack’s needs as much as your own, concerned with how we feel, what we need, and how you can help.
I’m glad to have shared much of your life with the Upland Nation. Your television pack extends to the four corners of the earth. Your many fans have watched you grow from gangly pup to noble dog, elegantly covering ground like a pronghorn.
You’ve slowed since your last birthday, content with shorter runs, even walking on lead with your alpha female human, almost prancing alongside your Corgi packmate. That Corgi has become more than a walking partner, though. She keeps you on your toes, if only in self-defense. Her yips aren’t just puppy joy, she adores you. She loves your size (a challenge to a short dog), your floppy ears (yum), and most of all your tolerance of her pushy inquisitiveness. You are a tolerant stoic, the good example the rest of us should emulate but seldom do.
Even Manny has mellowed in his long-term project to become the alpha dog, perhaps in deference to your advancing age. I see you both sharing a field again some day, maybe just in my mind.
Until then, you will still get the first “up” on hunts. You’ve earned it, putting up with my so-called training and dismal shooting. You will also have the best spot on the bed in the morning – after I’m up but your alpha female isn’t (you both deserve the extra rest).
And when you’d rather watch from the driver’s seat as Manny and I blunder through the puckerbrush, know that he will be carrying more than your DNA into the field, he will be carrying on your legacy.