Savouring the dog days of summer
By: By Sheelagh Matthews
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 04, 2013 10:18 am
Today I pulled the Swan card, number 39 in the deck. Itís a card that speaks of grace and transformation. I got a lump in my throat the moment I saw it.
For on my mind lately is the knowing that I am being called to accept a big change in life. Once again, my faithful four-legged companion, Bear, is my guide for this latest journey I am being called upon to take.
Actually, itís Bearís journey, but the Universe has organized things so that we are taking it together. You see, Bear, still pretty in her thick white coat accented with black markings and freckles, is 15 years old. Thatís 105 in dog years. She is, to put it plainly, getting old. Despite arthritic hips and cloudy eyesight, Bear still enjoys a pretty good quality of life, albeit one that has been contracting these past few years. Except for the doggie treats, the treats have not been contracting.
We went for a walk this morning, my furry charge and I. Our walks have been getting markedly shorter and shorter this past summer. Day-long mountain romps are now a distant memory. Today we made it down the block and back home through the alley. Sometimes we only get two or three doors away. Our outings are so slow, they are more of a waddle than a walk lately. Nevertheless, there are still lots of smells to decipher and people to greet along the way. Thereís also the obligatory pee-mail to leave behind in strategic places. Maybe this is my senior dogís way of saying, ďIím still here. I still count!Ē
And count she does! Not only can she count to 10 ó with a little prompting from yours truly, mind you ó Bear is an integral part of our family unit. Two humans, one canine, and one feline make up our pack. Mike is alpha dog, Iím No. 2, Bearís No. 3, and Pumpkin, our 13-year old cat, is No. 4, although Iím pretty sure Pumpkin would tell you that I have this ranking exactly backwards. Each of us may look, think and act differently, but we all support each other in our own individual ways. The whole of our family is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.
An Australian Shepherd-Border Collie cross makes for a working dog through and through, and a smart one, too. Thatís our Bear. Sheís my inspiration as well as my taskmaster when it comes to work. Bear may not have any sheep or cattle to tend, but sheís got me to herd back into my home office when I linger too long in the kitchen. Sheís with me now, curled up at my feet, content in the knowledge work is being done as she hears the familiar clicking of my keyboard. I wonder if she knows how much big energy she brings to my work. As she lies by my side and drifts off to sleep, Bear settles me and my thoughts. Her presence somehow expands the space around me, both within and without. I donít know how she does it, but she does. Bears, according to Aboriginal medicine, bring the power of introspection and a search for the sweetness of truth. I ask you, what better companion could a writer ask for?
Bear keeps us hopping as we try to stay ahead of her antics. Our smarty-pants dog has an uncanny ability to know what her humans are going to do before we do. Mike is always in awe of this. I am more used to it and take it for granted, although these days I try to savour such moments when they appear. Itís cheap entertainment to watch Bear as she figures out what mischief the cat is about to get into. Before Pumpkin even twitches a whisker, a low growl of disapproval can stop the cat in her tracks. But, a quick scoot out of the room by Pumpkin is no longer followed by a white-and-black blur of our dog in hot pursuit; Bearís too old for that kind of nonsense now.
Enjoying the dog days of summer while we still have them to enjoy, and facing change and transformation with grace ó now thatís in our best interest.