I got my dogs when they were just puppies, almost nine years ago. It is hard to believe that much time has passed. I watched them slow with age, and today had to take one in for a minor surgery as he has developed some lumps on his legs. We are waiting, anxiously, for the results. Their age first started to show in their speed. and one developed a pretty grey muzzle. They still get excited at riding in the car, though, and wiggle whenever we get back home.
These are the same dogs, less one we lost a couple years ago, that stayed by my side, literally, while I worked toward my degree. They lay either under the table, by the desk, or in the doorway (before I moved into the bigger office). They are so content to hang out with me while I work that if I happen to go into my office and close the door without them I will hear them sniffing, loudly, at the door. They might huff if the sniffing wasn’t enough to get the door open or poke their nose or paw under the door (yes there is just enough room), but they never bark. They just wanted to be beside me, sometimes for only a minute, and then they wanted back out to be beside my husband.
They always know when I am deep in concentration as they snooze contently on their beds, and when I need a break or if I am getting frustrated I always find a nose poking under my arm. They have, in their own way, cheered me on through this whole process, at least, in my eyes. Dogs are amazing teachers, they are patient most of the time, but if they are feeling left out they let it be known, if they need some love they push until they get it, but they never demand too much. A nose will force its way under my elbow until I turn and give him a scratch or a pet and then he moves back, content, to his bed by my feet.
There is something beautiful about how they take just what they need, and in how they stand up and demand it before it gets forgotten. I have drawn comfort from them when papers haven’t gone my way, or I just couldn’t grasp a concept; they help me to recharge, or, if needed, hide from the world in their fur.
They have taught me to be patient, to voice my opinion when it needs to be heard, but they have also taught me to be present. To take in the day as it comes and enjoy the moments between starting and ending. Some of the best days, looking back on my degree, are the days when I had my feet tucked under one of my boys and they snored quietly under my desk, for hours.
On days like today, I feel drained. One dog is confused about what is going on, the other is quite strung out on painkillers that I’m not sure he knows which way is up. He doesn’t understand why he feels the way he does and doesn’t want to sleep. But also falls asleep while sitting up, leaving us rushing to catch him. On days like today, I worry about what is to come and I find it hard to focus on everything I should be. But I remember all the hours they put in with me, so now that they are both finally settled and the one is asleep (laying down) I can focus on the work, while they lay by my feet. Just as it should be.