Mike decided to leave Nellie behind today. He wanted Bess to have more hunting practice on her own, he said, and Nellie doesn’t need practice. So I suggested that Nellie and I go for a walk when it was time to change Bess’ collar and load up the hunting gear – because Nellie would most certainly not like to be left behind.
But, when I stood ready to open the door, two dogs were waiting expectantly. “You’ll have to help me,” I called to Mike, and he came to hold Bess back. Nellie made a confused glance over her shoulder, which Mike noticed.
“She won’t be confused long,” I said, as we headed down the drive. And I was right. Nellie quickly adjusted to this old activity which felt as comfortable as the proverbial old slipper – Nellie and Kathy going for a walk.
And Meredith Willson’s tune from The Music Man began to play in my head. It’s really “The Sadder but Wiser Girl for Me,” but in my mind, it became “The Older but Wiser Girl for Me.”
Just as humans change over time – but not really – so dogs also change. No longer eager for a system-stirring run, Nellie pokes along, explores where she wants, and trots to catch up if necessary. She’s opinionated – prefers to go where she likes rather than where directed and doesn’t like to be told what to do – just like some of the rest of us.
Bess, on the other hand, is a challenge on the walk. White Nellie is easy to see, while Bess wears natural camo. And I might think Bess is right beside me one moment and the next she’s looking at me from a point far up the road and out of range of my care. Or, she’ll lag behind and then run to catch up – kthump, kthump kthump kthumP kthuMP kTHUMP KTHUMP. And she delights in coming just as close as she can without running into us. Yes, a walk by ourselves is far more relaxed than one with Bess.
But Nellie, for all her elder challenges, is still the “old pro” in the field. Apparently a dog doesn’t need to run and jump, dart here and there, to be a good hunter. “Slow and steady” wins the bird, Nellie knows.
Well, anyway, to shift topics, while at the farmhouse over Christmas, Hallie decided to read The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald. She enjoyed it and then decided to read other books by MacDonald – Anyone Can Do Anything and The Plague and I. (She says she probably won’t read the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series.) She says she has really enjoyed these light reads and looks forward to reading in the evenings.
Well, while I was mentally humming “The Sadder but Wiser Girl for Me,” I remembered that I’ve wanted to read Meredith Willson’s And There I Stood with My Piccolo.