Bart the wimpy dog turned 10 years old today. You can see it when you look closely at him. Much of the gold on his face has turned to silver, but he wears it well because he’s blond. He shows his age when he goes down steep stairs and the wrinkles around his jowls. He’s in no rush to get up in the morning, content to stay in the warm, thermal foam mattress topper rather than jump down to the cold floor. When I leave for work, he settles himself on the couch, where he stays till I come home—unless he goes back to the bed. He no longer bounds to meet me at the door when I get home, instead waiting for me to come to him on the couch or the bed.
And yet, when he gets a human on the end of a leash, he’s a puppy, bounding ahead with joy, tail waving like a flag. He explores the news on every tree and bush, and approaches people on the trail certain each one wants to be his new best friend. Every task I undertake finds him at my side, eager to help. Just today, as I ate my 6” sub sandwich for lunch, a worker came to the door to mark utility lines so I could avoid hitting the lines on a fencing project. When I came back in ten minutes later, Bart appeared happy, and my sandwich was no longer on the kitchen table. The only evidence was a piece of lettuce and part of the wrapper on the floor.
Happy birthday, Bart. Here’s to many more years of being my exercise accountability partner, my cuddle buddy, my confidant and critic. Sorry I didn’t put a candle in that sandwich for you.
The dog boots I ordered during the blizzard came the day after life went back to normal. Snow had been cleared from the roads, melting began and I went back to work. Then the dog boots arrived.
Anxious to see Bart’s reaction, I slipped the boots on his front paws, which was about as easy as putting shoes on a two-year-old child that wants to go barefoot. Finally, both boots were cinched on. He lowered himself from the couch and began to paddle his way to the front door, lifting each paw up around his ears with each step. When I could stop laughing enough to find the leash, I snapped it on him.
Evidently, his trek from couch to door had told him the boots cushioned his feet. He bounded down the front steps, still covered in snow, and pranced all around the snow in the driveway and yard. His paws hitting the snow sounded like a shod Clydesdale on a brick street. I told him “short walk,” and he trotted across the street to make our usual circle of two trees, a fence row, an alley and a big tree. That’s when I discovered that the boots helped him stay on top of the crusty snow, while my shoes, plus the fact that my weight was concentrated on two feet instead of four, caused me to break through. I was huffing and puffing by the time we made it to the alley at the top of the hill.
When we got back to the house, I stood with my sides heaving like I had just run the Kentucky Derby. Which is a whole lot easier to train for, at a mile and a quarter, than a marathon of 26 miles, but that’s another philosophical discussion. Bart paced into the bedroom, plopped down on his dog cushion, and immediately began to gnaw on his boots. I guess even dog boots need breaking in. I took them off him and put them up for the next walk.