Come take a walk with me and my old dog...
Bandit is an old fella. 14 or 15 years old I've lost track.
When I used to be a solo parent and the house was without a male defender I thought I'd get a dog to alert us to anyone on our property.
The barking, although it could have been about anything from a blowing leaf to a serial killer, made me feel a little safer.
But with advanced age came a lack of concern from him. Mostly indifference to anything besides eating and napping, he now is hard of hearing, visually impaired by cataracts, a little senile and totally retired from his guard dog responsibilities.
Arthritis slowed him down. And we adjusted to the new elderly stage by letting him roam and sniff in short distances around the yard. Switching him from kibble to wet food seemed to help his stiff joints immensely.
But he kills us with flatulence now. Most cures are not without side effects.
Old man farts. And they sometimes scare him.
When he crosses over eventually my bet is on a giant whopper that gives him a heart attack and we have to fumigate before preparing the body for a funeral.
This morning his gas was bad.
The kind of bad that made me want to open the door for fresh air in -13°C winter weather.
Instead I hooked on his leash and we walked to the farm for barn chores. I hoped the big walk would release all of his tummy demons.
He's part hound. So walks with him require patience of a saint while he sniffs every scent that has ever left a trail. There is nothing hurried in walking a senile, deaf, crippled, farting hound dog.
Eventually we made it. The driveway was partially cleared and partially ice covered. And he was determined to learn how to ice skate. I was determined to stay on the dry part.
He slid down the driveway on his butt. Trying to backtrack the entire time to sniff everything he may have missed while bum scooting.
He's a mess.
And did I mention his mood swings?
I swear he only tolerates us because we feed him. The rest of the time he gives us the side eye and growls under his breath.
And don't get me started on his grooming. I've almost died while attempting to clip his nails. And his morning brushing makes me fear a chomp to my jugular.
The only one he loves is our granddaughter. He follows her, tail wagging, tolerant of her running and playing and dancing. It's most likely because she drops continous snacks. But we like to believe that it's because somewhere deep inside he has a soft spot for small humans.
We eventually made it to the farm this morning. He said hello to the horses in the field before his brain exploded with delicious smells to keep him occupied for a few hours.
He went from stall to stall studying the scents. He explored our arena with the smells of all the good dogs that come for agility. His idea of agility is reaching onto the couch for leftover spilled chips.
We agreed that we wouldn't get another dog. Our big girl that we lost last Fall was a handful, and she was so much work. Even as a senior she didn't grow out of her puppy stage. I'm still not over how much frustration she caused us with her behavior.
But sometimes I still wonder if I'd like to have another. I'd like one that barks when someone is in the yard. One that is a companion for walks and Netflix on the couch.
I'm not sure that I'm patient enough for a puppy though. Not at this stage. But old dogs, they're just easy. And some days I'm sure I'd take another home.
Give me a dog who wants to walk and explore, intimidate strangers. Then sleep for 22 hours a day. Is that too much to ask for?
Not everyone was happy that Bandit was at the barn. Skitty kitty hunted him and reminded him that he was an interloper in her home. He reacted by his obliviousness while she hunted and eventually attacked him. He didn't notice. There were too many good smells.
We made the slow walk home. And he crashed as soon as he got through the door. He couldn't even take the extra few steps to his blanket, and crashed down next to his best frenemy Jubilee Mae.
I'm not sure what the house would be like without a dog. I'm not sure what it would feel like to walk through the front door and not be greeted by a wagging tail and a sniff test to figure out where I've been.
I hope we don't have to find that out soon.
He's cranky and moody but we love him.
Even when he farts.