[Jesus] sat down and summoned the Twelve. “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.”
While Carmel’s here, what else would I put online but pictures of her?
For example: This morning I was happily dozing in my warm, cozy bed, listening to Ian getting ready to go to work and enjoying not getting up (this is one advantage of having no work). Then I felt a damp doggy nose press into my hand and then an insistent doggy paw reaching up to scratch at my arm. It was clearly time to go for a walk. By the time I’d gotten out of bed, Carmel was jumping around like an excited puppy (although rather more stiffly; 10 years is a very respectable age for any golden retriever). She kept checking to make sure that I was putting shoes on, then jacket, and when I finally got to the stage where I put three plastic baggies in my pocket, she’d nearly worked herself into a lather of excitement. …All for a 1.25-mile walk in the cold morning wind. Where’s spring? Anyway, we got home and she knew what happened next: I eat my breakfast, then she gets her food. She flopped on the kitchen floor and kept an eagle eye on my progress through my breakfast. I’m not used to having an audience for toast and OJ. Almost as soon as I stood up to put my plate away, Carmel was up and following me around. I fed her and she decided that I’d lost all interest — having walked and fed her, I have no more use until dinnertime, unless she needs her belly rubbed or her ears scratched — so she cozied up into her box and ignored me.
Having the dog paid off otherwise, though. I came down from doing the small amount of actual work I had today and saw this.
Dog, library, comfy couch… what more could I ask for? Later she came and plopped down with her back against the fluffy chair I was reading in and it felt so cozy and domestic, with the rain and the dog and a good book, that I swear my heart almost burst from gratitude.
Carmel, on the other hand, needs a lot less than a cozy chair and a book. She just needs her rope nubbin.
It’s her favorite toy and has been ever since we got her. This is what’s left of what started as probably 6′ of rope when she was 9 months old. She’s slowly shredded it, but we’ve rationed it out so she couldn’t shred the entire thing in a few days. I’m curious how much she’s actually ingested versus spit out; we keep finding chewed rope strands around the house. When the rope was still long enough, Carmel’s favorite game was tug-of-war. We’d drag her all over the linoleum in the kitchen, her legs all braced and scrabbling for a grip. I remember one time when Carmel was still young (is a year old considered a puppy for a golden retriever?), we tied one end of the rope to a post on the porch. She fiercely tugged on the other end, refusing to give in. Surely that post would let go eventually!
We got Carmel when I was in high school. I missed her prime years, living in Massachusetts. Honestly, one of the hardest things about being in Massachusetts was not having the dog around. I could talk to my family and friends on the phone, send them emails, write them letters, and have a sense of connection. But a dog’s value is that tangible physical solidity that’s there for you no matter what. It’s devotion. It’s love that can’t be experienced over long distances. Coming home it’s been my delight to get to have Carmel back in my life. When she dies — and I hope it’s not for a long, long time, but she is getting pretty old for a golden — I can tell you right now my heart will break. It makes me teary to think about it.
So I’m going to go cuddle with her stinky, hairy, shedding self while we have her.