Blessed are they who have earned the love of an old dog.
‘The truly great times with a field dog tend to be short. By the time they’ve learned a few things a couple of seasons have come and gone. When they finally come into their own they have a handful of years — no more — before old age starts to creep in. It passes in what seems like an instant. Like all of their kind, gun dogs are brief. It’s their only real fault.
I do my best to be with them when they go into the twilight, even though it’s sometimes grim. It’s sentimental, but I prefer to believe that if the tables were turned they would not abandon me at the last. As they fade I hope they dream of running, of the days when they were young and strong and the world was theirs.
We tell ourselves that it’s a mistake to grieve for an old mate, that we should be glad that such a great heart ever lived. That’s true enough but soon — too soon — I’ll have to brace for another of these moments, and the gallery of lost friends will be a little bigger. It’s easier if you accept that you never really stop missing them, and that a certain chapter of yours has closed.
Given the harsh price we must pay, why do we put ourselves through this miniature of our own life, this unsubtle allegory of the span we too are given? Because no other creature invites us so freely into their inner world, and no other wants so fervently to be part of ours.
Because when Odysseus returned to his palace dressed in rags after years of war he was taken for a beggar. Only Argos, his hunting hound — now old, broken and despised — recognised him with joy, and the soldier king turned so none would see his tears.’
from Hunting New Zealand – Parts Unknown
Peter P. Ryan www.faraway.co