Yesterday Shim was young and tough. Not just tough, but the toughest of them all. Those who don’t believe in a pack hierarchy, who say the concept of Alpha dogs went out with wolves, have never met Shim. He was the one dog kicked out of Pugdom, my friend Joan’s home, because he couldn’t get along with other males. He picked fights with all of them and the only way to keep from drawing blood was to send him away. But not too far. Shim went to live with our friend Jane, who only had females and thus, everyone could live in peace.
She tried to show him, but if there were males in the ring, she was out of luck. He just wouldn’t get along. Jane took him to an animal communicator after one show, but what was said has slipped from my memory, probably because it did no good. He remained our Bad Boy. Jane tried calming herbs to no avail. Shim was young and tough, but that was yesterday.
Today, he is old and has mellowed. The mellowing happened slowly, over time. And, not to a point where we could ever say he was truly tame, but the aging? When did that happen? Yesterday, Shim was young and tough. Today, he can’t walk. He has lost the use of his legs in much the same way that my pug Vader did. So, when I saw him last night at my friend Joan’s and he began to whine to go out I went to him. I scooped him up and took him outside, holding up his rear in just the right way so he could relieve himself without soiling his front legs. I bent over him as he took his time, my back aching, my legs shaky and I felt thankful for the opportunity to serve him in this way.
There is a grace that often comes over elderly dogs, replacing what time and illness robs from them. Although they suffer the indignities of age, they gain a peaceful demeanor as if they have already moved beyond this world and found an understanding that we lack. I am privy to this now and I wish that he could talk to me and spill his secrets – tell me what you have learned Shim, I might ask. Tell me what happened to yesterday and how you ended up here.
And, as he finishes and I carry him inside and watch as he struggles to position his useless legs beneath him, I think, be tough old man, be tough.