One hundred years from now – perhaps even five years or (heaven forbid) one year from now, this beautiful furry beast will be gone.
But she is alive and well now, and beautiful now, and so I stroke her fur and hug her and know that this unique and special life is passing through, now, in this instant.
And she can only be fully known and appreciated now.
So I stop everything and hug her.
This is what it looks like
When dogs fly
Dogs teach us so much about life – the importance of a kind word, the touch of a hand, a hug.
The need to play, to chase a ball for nothing more than the joy of running, to feel the air blow into your face.
To nap frequently.
To take life as it comes and never, ever be ready to do anything but love.
Well, love and gobble down a good meal …
Willow is 8 today. She came to our house on May 16, 2009, but the breeder’s paperwork said she was born March 28.
By the time we visited the farm, all of her littermates had been adopted. We could take the little puppy who was alone in her cage, or we could choose from a litter that was two weeks younger.
We already had a name in mind. I picked her up, asked “Are you Willow?” and she snuggled against my chest in affirmation. No need to see the others. I checked out the younger pups, but Willow was still The Willow.
I have bonded with other dogs in my life (Hello up there, Poppins. Hello, Tucker), but no one ever had a hold on me like Willow The Best Dog There Is™ – she who jumps up on the bed when the alarm goes off and leans in for a spoon. She who won’t relinquish the orange ball. She who we were sure was part greyhound because her long golden-retriever coat was late in arriving and she ran like the wind.
I started calling her Willow The Best Dog There Is somewhere along the line, and added the ™ just for fun. I know other people love their dogs as much as I do. Sometimes – and those who do understand this – there’s just something deeper between human and canine.
Happy birthday, Willow.
Willow wants to chase the ball, but she wants to protect the ball. She won’t give it up.
But you can’t chase the ball if you hold onto it with all your strength.
Let the ball go, let it fly – then thrill to the chase.
The dog curls underneath and rests herself against my foot, so that I can feel the pressure of her body on my ankle and the warmth of her fur on my toes.
It is the most reassuring and comforting feeling I can imagine.
Just as I wonder if it means as much to her as it means to me, she sighs – contentedly, I think.
The hound ran.
She ran because she was happy to be free, beyond the fence, beyond the limits.
She ran across the field through the clover, through the tall grass waving as she brushed by, her mouth open in what looked like a delighted smile, happy just to be alive and exploring and seeing what is out there beyond the fence, beyond the limits.
She ran like she did when she was a puppy in this field, a bounce in her step that wasn’t there behind the fence. The enclosed yard did not contain quite enough space for her to unleash her full speed, her full joy, the fullness of her being and potential.
The fence kept her safe, no doubt – from predators and from getting lost in the woods beyond the field. But beyond the fence lay freedom and joy and all the speed she could muster.
There were fewer limits there, and there she could be all the dog she was.