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September 26, 2000
a year ago
two years ago

Old Dogs

Fezzik sleeps outside most nights now. He comes in for his dinner, sits attentively at my elbow for my dinner (sometimes with his head under my arm to get closer to the food, but I usually manage to chase him off from actually eating stuff until I'm done) and when we settle down to watch the Olympics he sometimes lies near me for pets for a little while before he asks to go outside. It's interesting knowing that he wants to be outside, alone on the most part but for the night sky and all the activity in the neighborhood. He has coyotes to bark at, people to watch, horses to startle, kids riding mountain bikes to bark at, and everything he can see from his porch domain. He was sleeping in when there was snow outside, but now that it's hot again, he's out in the cool of the night, happy.

It's interesting to realize that we've raised such an independent dog. Most dogs seem to want to be around their people whenever their people are home; but Fezzik wants out, he doesn't want to be inside with us, and even when I lure him in with a treat or something, he asks to go back out again soon enough. Which is different than his daytime behavior. Maybe it's the coolness of the night, I dunno. The few times I telecommute from home, he comes up to the computer room with me and dozes there while I work.

Tonight, he was flat on his side out on the back deck when I went out to give him one of the beef bones I had leftover from lunch. He didn't even lift his head for the bone, instead, he worried it while remaining completely sideways. That was pretty funny to watch. He was pretty content with the savory bone and completely uncaring of what he looked like. We'd gone to Shorty's in Longmont for lunch with the French guys from Genoble. They didn't know of any restaurants that specialized in 'BBQ' or, more basically, long, slow smoked meats. Shorty's prided themselves in their slow-smoked hickory pit BBQ, though the results are actually pretty dry, which may well be more the fact that we're at such a high altitude than just the cooking process itself. My beef ribs were tender on the connection side and very, very dry and even a little crunchy on the thin side, but the sauce was pretty good, and the onion rings were really good, crunchy, hot, sweet, and tender on the inside. No stringy onions.

A good lunch with rib bones for Fezzik to boot! All the better.

The day wasn't nearly as busy as the last few. I started verifying a bunch of bugs that Ryan had fixed in the last set of things, and found out, purely by accident that one of the things I'd added might have been causing crashes. Oops.

Bill sat down with me and we used Purify to track the deleted instantiation down. It was actually relatively quick to do and with the fix in place things ran as expected. That was very nice. Not only find the bug but fix it immediately. I liked that.

I was, however, burnt out enough from the other stuff to want nothing more than to play a bunch of Angband. So I interspersed that with working through the technicalities of filing the bug and making the fixes in the right and allowable places. Didn't really talk with people much, until Trip paged me to tell me that Cera's kitten had died. I wandered over to tooMUSH even in my discombobulated state and lent what I could. I was very glad to find that Cera was already contemplating finding another kitten to fill in the gap left in her life. Everyone tells me that I should get a puppy now, if I don't want a similar gap and let Fezzik train the pup, now, but... I have refused several times. Partially to allow Fezzik to live out his days as The Dog of his pack, partially because I can't imagine trying to take care of two babies at the same time. And puppies really are babies until they're two. I am glad that Cera isn't going to just suffer the gap stoically.

Starling, in the midst of simply talking about the sorrows, found a very cool quote.

"We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan." -- Irving Townsend

Gretchen had cool stories about her mom's dog, Otto; and also the sorrow of when he finally failed, stopped eating and her mom brought him into the vet and the hard decision to be made. The cool stories were very clear parallels to the things that are happening, gradually, with Fezzik. A slow taking away of capabilities, of stamina, of the old power of the younger dog, but also about the fact that the dog didn't mind, not really. Otto was cheerful and happy and his personality burned bright all the way through even the latter parts of his life. That the blocks got harder to walk was simply a matter of patience with a body that no longer did quite what he wanted it to do. Still no harm in trying! Fezzik still loves walks eventhough he doesn't get very far with them. He just likes being out and about and exploring, even if he can't go very far before his hind legs ask him to sit for a bit.

Old dogs don't ever complain. They don't whine or get depressed or decide they don't want to do anything 'cause they can't do what they used to do. They're willing and eager and loving and brave. Fezzik gets a little confused by things not working quite right, and when his hind legs give out he's like, "Okay, I'll just sit here for a bit, then." "Or, boy, this block got a lot longer, but I'll make it!" Or stuff like that. Gretchen said that her mom noted that pets are often people's first real lessons on mortality, since they do live shorter lives than we do. There is probably a lot to be learned from how dogs deal. And, as Gretchen said, I'd love to be able to grow old like a dog, if Otto and Fezzik are representatives of that capability.

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