Clara turned 13 last week, still pretty spry for an 82-year-old equivalent (according to pets.webmd.com). Even on cold days she follows her nose avidly around the snowy field, sniffing vole trails, or trotting, ears and hackles on high, in pursuit of the neighborhood coyote who’s been hunting our muskrats.
Clara paces herself. I think that’s the secret to her longevity. She get too worked up over the coyote, even when she sees him; she just lifts her nose higher and adds a bit more spring into that silky, sashaying gait of hers. I don’t think she wants to actually catch anything. The UPS man may get a bark or two, no more. She’s never been one to leap up for a wild good morning, or a welcome back from the store, which can be a bit disappointing after years of Kate, the wildly intense sheprador. But she does roll her eyes lovingly up to you when you walk in the room, tail a-thump. And she curls up at our feet when we’re watching TV or eating dinner. As I pass through a room where she lies, she gazes up at me, gauging the potential for a belly rub. If our eyes meet, she rolls invitingly onto her back, awaiting my attentions.
Some day we’ll get another dog. In the meantime, we are enjoying the gentle, peaceful presence of this dear, easy companion. I was thinking someone less than 80 pounds might be nice. On the other hand, there’s nothing quite like wrapping my arms around the full barrel of her chest, or lying down with my head on her furred neck, paw draped over mine.
The stress of isolation isn’t so bad, in the company of such a quiet soul.
Robin Clifford Wood is a writer and writing teacher. She lives in central Maine with her husband and dogs, loves to be outdoors, and enjoys ever-expanding horizons through her grown children and their multi-species families.