Two dogs lie on the living room rug just about all day long. They used to run and play. Not together but each in their own way joyfully exploring the grass, the flower beds, the driveway, the smells of whoever peed or pooped there before.
When they could hear better, they would come when we called. Well, when we called and they were ready to come. Cody would bound eagerly to us. Sasha would take her time, sniffing sniffing sniffing along her meandering route.
Unless it was dinner time. They didn’t wear watches but they knew when it was dinner time. They still do. Being quite deaf they don’t hear us calling nor do they hear the sound of the kibble landing a cup at a time in their metal bowls. Nor do they hear the sound of the refrigerator opening as we get some pieces of raw chicken to enhance their meal.
And Sasha is blind so she doesn’t see our movements to the food bin or the fridge. But she can smell like she was a pup and a favored fragrance will wake her from her afternoon nap and draw her up off the carpet sniffing her way toward the food and even if she bumps into things, she’s not deterred.
They are sweet in their old age and infirmities. Gentle and apparently comfortable in their smaller interests, their smaller range, their greater time spent in doggy dreamland. They need us more and that pulls us into more concern, more attentiveness, more readiness to get up and check on them, anticipating their needs, doing our best to meet them.
There is something that stabs at my heart when I see their frailty and dependence and see our responsibility. They are more dependent and we are less independent and somehow we never expected to be aging caretakers of aging animals who are like the helpless dependent children we two never raised together.