Dog lessons

Cooper8-3-14  I know Cooper has a significant take-it-easy gene, I know he is getting older and I know that his heavy black coat just doesn’t get along with New Mexico summers. Now, I think I know something else about my animal shelter friend, who, at an uncertain age, came home with me eight years ago with only stitches, ticks, a lung infection and fear of thunder, lightning, gunshots, squeaky toys and opening drawers to show for his life so far.

Oh yeah, there were those brown eyes, orange eyebrows and snow white front paws, the right one of which he is apt to extend in greeting if the receiver seems likely to respond in good faith. And there was never any question about moving in here. He was home from Day 1, easily transitioning from the hard plastic crib at Albuquerque’s Eastside Animal Shelter to any piece of furniture that suited him in his new Placitas digs.

At any rate, I started to sink into depression today when he balked on our morning walk. I would be more worried about disease if he did not otherwise seem healthy, if I did not regularly take him to the vet for “senior wellness checks” and if I didn’t know that, given the go-ahead, he would readily trot DOWN the hill to see his friend Sara, a three-year-old German short-haired pointer who lives with owners who are fond of Australian Shepherds, or, in Cooper’s case, what the shelter called an “Aussie X.”

I also know that two inches of snow on the ground would turn him into a puppy. And I know that when we go out tonight, he will be happy to lie on the mesa top, sniffing the breeze and scanning the horizon.

But, sorry Cooper, the snow is four or five months off, just taking in the view won’t keep my heart pumping and my legs from locking up and, while Sara’s folks like you, they did not move here simply to provide you ice water or let you wear out their grass wrestling with Sara.

So, for the the first time since Cooper moved in, I went on a morning walk by myself.

Outward bound, I was in a funk about Cooper’s age, thinking of previous dogs, and how certain, dreaded transitions are inescapable. But, by the return leg, all that still being true, I also remembered that Cooper and I had walked this exact same dry, rocky path several thousand times over the past eight years.

Accordingly, I have added simply bored to the list of possible reasons for Cooper balking on warm-weather walks.

Sorry, Coop, this old dog is still learning new tricks. And, sprawled on the bed with the ceiling fan turning above, you didn’t seem bothered at all when I returned, sweatily, from my walk alone.

The walking stuff is less of a mystery to me this morning. I think maybe I need to stretch my legs more than you do these days. But I still don’t have a clue about the opening of drawers.

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