Log Cabin Chronicles

Royal Orr

Rest, old friend, rest


Our dog is old. Not ancient, you understand, but old.

On Sunday afternoon, perhaps recalling her glory days as a young spaniel, our old dog decided to walk with me and my son through the woods. It was hot. After about 20 minutes crashing through the brush, I started to get concerned.

Her old sides were pumping like bellows and her tongue was practically dragging on the forest floor. We started resting every hundred yards. At a stream, she lay down in the water for a while.

When we got back to the house, she reclined gingerly in a shady spot by the porch. When her puffing finally slowed, she fell asleep.

The next morning, she was still snoozing. We woke her as we went off to work. She looked dazed. She was shaking and refused to get up. She drank a bit of water, then heaved a great, quivering sigh and put her head down.

Halfway through the morning, my worry got the better of me. I like to think that I'm not very sentimental about animals, but I guess I proved myself wrong on that point. I cancelled two meetings, got back in the car and drove home from Montreal.

Midday, the old beast looked even worse and still refused to stand. I hoisted her onto the front seat of the car and headed for the vet.

Dr. Lacroix looked grave. He had poked, prodded and stethoscoped her for several minutes.

"She's quite old," he said finally.

I nodded, feeling somehow guilty for this obvious fact, and worried what would come next.

"That's it," he said. "She's quite old."

He prescribed aspirin. And rest.

Our yard has been turned into a canine convalescent centre. She accepts her aspirin tablet each morning with good grace and no growling. She wobbles around the lawn - a sort of self-directed physiotherapy. Then she retires to a favored spot beneath a big apple tree, gazes with slightly clouded eyes across the fields, and dreams.

Dreams of digging holes in the lawn big enough to trap an elephant.

Royal Orr is a freelance writer and broadcaster living in Hatley.

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