Archive for September, 2019

Tonight’s Walk

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

As is my habit, I went for a walk after supper tonight. Even though the days are getting noticeably shorter, I decided to splurge and hike back to the maple syrup operation. Once I made that commitment, I realized it couldn’t be a long walk, because I’d failed to bring along my headlamp.

It is still warm enough in late September for me to go on walks without shoes. All too soon, shoes and boots will be required, but for now, I exchange the little cold for the much appreciated sensation of feeling the earth beneath my feet.

As I was walking, I started doing the math, and decided I must have made this hike at least 500 times since I started on the maple project 10 years ago. One constant for the vast majority of these walks has been the company of our dog Franco. He was just a puppy when he started hiking out with me. Tonight Franco didn’t join me.

Late Monday afternoon, after a full day helping me mow the lawn and chasing the wheelbarrow around the yard, Franco faltered and had to lay down to catch his breath. I sat with him in the sunshine for an hour or so. He tried to get up after that, but only made it about 10 steps before he fell over on his side. We brought his crate outside, lifted him in, and dragged it inside the house, where we put it in his special corner. He and I sat there for another hour or so while he fought for his breath, until, at last, he gave up the battle and lay still.

Watching my loyal friend reach his end with his typical dignity provided me with a life lesson I’m still digesting. I tell myself he had a very good life. He was with us from the day we brought him home from Wisconsin at about 8 weeks old, until this past Monday. He could run, swim, and get drinks out of the pond, but his favorite of all was chasing his ball/stick. He almost always had something in his mouth which he’d drop near me, then back up and watch expectantly. Up until the end, he would play this game for about as long as I held out.

Life goes on, this too shall pass, time heals all wounds; all these things wind around one’s mind when an important mooring line parts. They sound trite, but are nonetheless true. For now, I know I am wiser to have cared so deeply for another creature and sat by his side when he left. I plan to take many more walks and think about all these things.