Well, you are ten years old, at least chronologically.
Your muzzle is grayer, your gait slower. At times, there’s a hitch in your getalong. Luckily, you can’t say the same about me because you can’t talk.
Based on your behavior, I’d consider you a mere puppy – levitating, bouncing, hopping, barely containing your squeals of delight. You are effervescent, hoping it’s time for birds, a hell-bent streak through the desert, or maybe just coffee on the couch.
But there’s also anxiety in your world. You worry about my leaving, or who’s going to hunt first. There is concern in your eyes when the door opens and you’re not invited to race outside, or when you’re outside, not allowed in. Thank goodness for Penny the Corgi, your apprentice. She calms you with an ear lick, doleful eyes aimed your way. Or she pulls on your lip, mouths your elbow, yips in invitation to – what? Puppy mojo washes over you, magically stealing back the years that have taken their toll.
I hope that my touch, my soothing words, calm you too.
At night, we exchange moans lying on the couch together, fluently communicating in the secret language of the tired, old and sore. We share stone bruises and scratches, painkillers and sometimes, dinner. But in the morning, you are ready for action so I will be too.
Your grand nephew Manny now looks to you with kind eyes, finally secure in his own skin and ready to be a member of the pack. You might even hunt together this fall.
You sleep deeply, chasing rabbits with muted howls. I stir in the night, wishing I was following. In the morning we’ll foray into the desert, intent on following our dreams.
What do you want for your birthday, Buddy? If you wished for a whole bag of food, rawhide bones, or a fluffier bed I’d rush out today, credit card in hand. Luckily, we agree that the perfect birthday gift is a long drive, lunch in a small town café, camp where the only light is from stars, and waking to a glorious day in the field full of finds and flushes.
I promise a season-full this fall. Happy birthday.