Thursday, February 21, 2013

Big Yellow Dog

Our dog is closing in on 16.  That's old for a lab.  We got her when our boys were little.  Now they are grown men.  And she is old.  As  a puppy she was cute and a terror.  Cuddly and maniacal.   Fun to play with - but you had to be careful.  Those little milk teeth were sharp.  She jumped on anything that fell on the floor.  She chewed, dug holes under the fence to escape, shredded her dog beds, destroyed new shoes and was the puppy that all labs of my acquaintance are.  

She mellowed at about 4 or 5.  She stopped chewing things she shouldn't and never makes much of an intentional mess.   Of course there is her hair which sheds constantly.  But for the last 10 years or so she has been the best dog a guy could have.  Loyal, loving, enjoys going out for a walk.  She greets me warmly, enthusiastically and hangs on my every word.  She lets me know that I am her best friend.  She hasn't gotten sick much and has only had a few traumatic accidents.  No, all in all she has been a truly good friend.

At this age, when I buy a big 40 pound bag of dog food, I seriously wonder if she'll be around to finish it.  I only buy a three month supply of flea and tick stuff now.  It's expensive.  This dog bed will most likely be her last.  Probably her last bottle of shampoo.

She has always been able to open the back door on her own to let herself out.  When she was a pup I put handles on the bottom of the screen doors.  In a single day I taught her to open them.  But now, when we let her out on the back porch, she looks at you as if to say, "You really want ME to get that door open?"  No, we usually open the door for her.  As a younger dog, she used to bound down the steps without thinking, sometimes leaping down all 5 steps at once.  Now I have built her a ramp so she can ease herself down slowly and deliberately.  Dangerously frisky as a young dog and a rude sniffer -  she is creaky now, stiff, has a difficult time getting up when she has been lying down for a while.  

But she still seems happy.  She loves her lovin' and her discomfort is outweighed by her delight at seeing us when we come home from work or when she takes us for a walk - now only to the corner and back instead of the regular 5 miles she used to run with me - pulling like mad the whole time.  Her time is almost up.  But she is still happy.  And when her pain outweighs her happiness, we'll put her to sleep.  Because we love that old thing.

As I write this late in the evening with Heidi asleep - Sasha is snoozing loudly on the floor next to me.  She is near me whenever she can be.  Who could ask for a more loyal friend?  Perhaps she is dreaming of her younger days, chasing rabbits or squirrels or playing with her puppyhood friends Tina or Buckley or Pepper - all gone now.  Her paws are twitching, so are her ears.  She seems to be sniffing.  

And I swear she is smiling.  

When she was a puppy, I wrote this silly blues song about her.  I expect I'll be singing this with a tear in my eye after she's gone.

Big Yellow Dog

I've got me a big yellow dog, and my dog she's got me too
There are some days when I work so hard
And I come home feeling restless and blue
But my big yellow dog she's sittin' there 
With that dog grin on her face
Her tails a waggin', she's comin' up to greet me
And I know I'm in the right place.

Now the time I spend with my big yellow dog
Might be considered wasteful to some
Sittin' on the porch, scratching her belly 
Getting licked by her big old tongue
She sniffin' all around trying to catch some smell
To try to make sense out of my day
And I'm sittin' here with a dozen things to do
And all she wants to do is play

I don't know if she'd rescue me from a burning building or not
But when I think of that pretty yellow dog
I know my love will never stop

Now my big yellow dog, she doesn't need much
Just some bowls with some water and some food
And a dusty rug at the bottom of the steps
Where she guards us when she's in the mood
And a bath sometimes when she's been a bad girl
And she's rolled in some stinky old thing
But the love she gives back in return
Is worth more than anything  (CHORUS)

The time I spend with my big yellow dog 
I don't grow any older it seems
I don't watch the news or answer emails
Or read any magazines
I don't pay the bills, I don't talk shop
I can't get much of nothin' done
But I can mow the grass and water the flowers
We like to hang out in the sun (CHORUS)


Now I can't say I haven't smacked that girl
When she's done some bad girl things
But I feel bad when she feels bad
And it comes back to haunt me it seems
And when her time to go has passed 
And she's buried at the bottom of the hill
I'll think of her and that big yellow face 
And I know I'll love her still  (CHORUS)


Nic said...

I tried to read this post four times and each time I welled up and had to stop. I finally finished it tonight.

Loving that big yellow dog. :)

Chris Hass said...

Sixteen is a good old age for a dog. That's more than 100 in human years, right? Our dog Tess will turn nine this year and we have reason to believe she's beginning to lose her hearing. She sometimes doesn't hear things that normally make her go crazy and bark like mad. She also doesn't come back in when we call her if she's too far from the porch.

I've seen your dog many times and she has always been very mellow. Certainly not one to jump, scratch, or howl. No longer does she chew everything in sight. I've always thought that should we get a dog in the future we should get an older one that is calm. Can you imagine if we thought of people the way we thought of dogs? "Well, grandpa has finally hit his stride. He lies around a lot and is rarely ever heard!" Maybe my logic is faulty?!