Thursday, January 16, 2014

"The [older] but wiser dog for me"

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.

Have you enjoyed a light read recently? Or – do you have a favorite light read? KW


Hallie said...

Yep! And now I'm reading Onions in the Stew about her life on Vashon. So far, it doesn't amuse me quite as much as the others, but it's still good.

Nellie used to play the chicken game. We'd be at play and she'd run just as fast as she could at me and make me squeal for fear she would take me out. She'd either magically come to a full stop just in front of me or veer to the side at the last second, laughing all the way! Having a puppy is a reminder of the evolution that has happened in the old dog. It has been hard for me to reflect (teary eyed now just thinking of it).

Kathy said...

Well . . . pets teach us life lessons, and one of those lessons is letting go. But, you don't have to let go of her yet. She's just fine. (She just turned nine circles on her pillow.) While we know the limits of her life span, we mustn't make ourselves miserable over it.

Mike and I were just remarking this morning that Nellie landed in a place she loved (with us) from the minute she saw it. We decided she didn't care to much for the litter. She prefers us.

Chris said...

I haven't read the Betty MacDonald books in years, but I loved them. So fun! And the source of the Ma and Pa Kettle characters.

For Christmas I asked for and got Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading them in the days after.

My favorite other light read author is Rosamund Pilcher. Can't tell you have many times I've reread her books and each time I love them all over again. I especially love British terms such as the dustbin lorry and the wheelie bin!

Kathy said...

Oh, Chris! I was especially waiting for you to tell us what you like to read. You always have had a knack for finding good reads.