Tales of Old
When your Norwich Terrier puppy is young and silly you think he'll never mature, especially when you're working on milestones such as house training and teaching him the proper use of his sharp little teeth (yes, Nigel I'm talking about you). When Nigel and Divot were robust young adults, they were so full of themselves! So energetic, and always ready to go. I could not imagine them being any other way. I could never imagine them not being able to keep up with me.
Playtime has gone from constant, to infrequent, to non-existent. What used to look like to furry slot cars racing around my house, has been replaced by what looks more like two tiny, furry rugs at my feet. Nigel has become the amble-in-the-yard type than the hiking-in-the-mountains type he was no so long ago. In addition to her natural slowdown, Divot's anti-seizure mediation makes her a little dull and lethargic. But, just a few days ago, everything was just right. She must have been feeling really good and she had a little burst of energy accompanied by one of her old pop and spin moves, and a quick sprint up the driveway. It didn't last long but it sure did make us smile to see her like that again.
Some of their senses are beginning to dull just as they do in every aging creature, although if there is any activity coming from the kitchen, sharpness and clarity miraculously return. The good manners they once possessed such as sitting quietly for their food, or staying out from underfoot in the kitchen have all but disappeared. They can no longer understand my instruction, but that's alright. They did as I instructed when they could, but now the important thing is keeping them safe. I just have to be extra careful from now on.
Everything that involves Nigel and Divot takes much longer these days. A trip outside can take a remarkably long time to get both dogs down the geriatric dog ramp, through the garage, and out the service door to the lawn to do their business. Sometimes Nigel goes to the wrong side of the door and cannot figure out why I am trying to get him to go out the other side of the door - the open side. Sometimes I just pick him up and place him in front of the open door. There you go buddy, straight out from here now. This is the beginning of dementia. In the meantime, Divot dawdles making her way to the door, sniffing carefully along the carpeted runway, meant to guide them to the door. Despite my encouragement, she's in no hurry. Finally outside they do their business and now we repeat the process to come back in. Once up the ramp they stop and stand in the open doorway to the house. Perhaps they do this because I am standing in the doorway, but since I am the only one of the three of us who can open or shut a door, I have good reason to be standing there. After much encouragement and a little prodding from me, they go through the door and into the house. This can only be described as living with a hairy little geriatric could who does not speak English...
Nigel has the uncanny ability to know when it's four o'clock no matter where he is, and he demands to eat right then. During our travels, we have traveled through three different time zones in a matter of days and when the clock hits 4:00PM, no matter where we are, it's time to eat according to Nigel. This is the doggie version of the Early Bird Special. Like some older folks I know (yes, Dad, I'm talking about you), they eat because it's time to eat, not necessarily because they are hungry. Nigel either knows how to read a clock or his internal clock switches over at cell towers like my phone does. I also believe he came equipped with GPS but that's another tale.
This can all be a little frustrating at times, but it is incredibly sweet and incredibly sad. It seems that our time together has been relatively short and yet they have changed so much. I have reminisced lately about the wonderful trips we have taken with Nigel and Divot. We have seen beautiful scenery, and hiked some amazing trails together. I wouldn't trade those high-energy times for anything, and yet I wouldn't trade these slower, gentle times either. I have always thought of Nigel and Divot as being like my children – not that I think they are human – I respect them for the canines they are, but my children in the sense that I am responsible for raising them, meeting their needs, teaching them, and taking care of them each day of their lives. But suddenly, I see them as very elderly beings. One day my "children" became so much older than me, and it has required quite a mental leap to adjust. I can only hope that I am wise enough to meet their changing needs and do what is right to help them through the next phase. For now we are treasuring each day and taking it slow.