Sunday, March 2, 2008

My Old Girl, by Kat Magendie

Kayla trips again this morning while on our mountain walk. I lean over, pet her thick soft fur, murmuring, “It’s okay, old girl.” She’s been tripping more lately; her arthritis. She looks up at me, and there is blood on her tongue and mouth. “What’d you do, old girl?” When she fell, her long tooth must have torn her soft mouth. She’s impatient to walk on, and hasn’t let out even a whimper. I figure she's in pain, though, and I'll give her a pill when we get home. She’s strong. She’s stubborn, willful. She’s determined. We’re a lot alike, I think. She loves her walks, and I don’t want to think of a day when she can no longer enjoy them. I take her to a runoff of cold, running water and she drinks. I think how everything ages, every living thing in the world.

Her dark muzzle is turning white, her limp more pronounced, her eager sprint turned to slow plodding walk. It’s as if she and I are growing old together, but unfortunately and sadly, she is aging faster than I am. We turn on the road and head to the place where the creek tumbles down over rocks in a roar. We never see anyone here, and if it weren’t for the development happening around us, I’d feel as if I were in a magical secret place. I look down at my old girl again, and she looks up at me, her soft brown eyes trusting and kind, but I know that, like me, she has her moods and those moods are to be respected. We understand each other. I touch her head. I wonder what she thinks of me, of the world around her.

How did our canine friends become so important to us? Important enough that when they get sick or old and then finally leave us, we grieve with a ferocity that is hard to bear. We miss them terribly. And what do they hope for in return for their gifts to us? Food, water, walks, a few pets, and kindness, which I gladly give my old girl, and our younger dog Jake (big ole boy). I’m grateful for the devotion my dogs have given me. They thank me back in their dog ways. Kayla and I limp together down the old mountain road. I don’t want to think too far ahead, to when she's not by my side. She's here now, steady, true, solid. Old Girl, my good old girl.


Barbara Quinn said...

Our pets do make great friends and companions,and we get so much comfort from them, and they from us too. I hope you continue to enjoy those walks with her for a while yet.

Angie Ledbetter said...

I give my old Boston (almost 16!) a baby aspirin now and then when she's hurting. What a blessing she has been to me and my family. First, she was a devoted watch dog for many years when my husband was working on the road for months at a time, then a playmate for the kids and myself, now she is enjoying her old age well, I hope. (She kinda gets to do whatever she wants now!) ;)

Anonymous said...

know what you mean. give the old girl a pet for me.

ranger dan

Kathryn Magendie said...

I thought of you and "Miss Darla" when I wrote this, Angie *smiling*

Kathryn Magendie said...

Well, Ranger Dan - it's been a while...welcome back to Estrogen Valley!

Nannette Croce said...

We are on our third dog and my husband and I often say she will be the hardest one to lose. She is the only dog who has consistently slept in our room every night since my daughter went away to school. Before that she would start out under our bed, then with much bumping and shaking for some reason known only to her, go in and sleep with my daughter. Now she has her own bed on the floor on my side and every night I hear her snoring and she never, never goes downstairs before us. It is all so dependable I can't imagine when she isn't there.

Elizabeth said...

Hi Kat! With all of your blog trotting I wasn't sure where to say my hello's. :)
It sounds like you have more on your daily plate than I do! Edit, read, write, network, practice plays... That sounds like a procrastination nightmare for me. I would never get anything done!
I enjoyed reading about your "old girl". My boxer is four right now and her muzzle is already starting to get a bit white around the edges. Harley has become such an important member of our family. I'm not sure what I'm going to do when she's gone. *sigh*

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