Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The final reports have come in. After many prayerful finger-crossings, I went to BannerWeb. Turns out I got an A- in Poetry, bringing my total GPA for the semester to a 3.10. Things are looking up. So now I have somewhat of a lighter heart going back on Sunday. If I can get a 3.25 or better this coming term I have a shot at doing an honors thesis.

Ten years ago, on Christmas Eve 1995, a couple of dogs wandered across our property. That's more common around here than you might think--we've returned quite a few hunting dogs to their owners after the befuddled canines wandered through our yard looking for--well, looking for whatever hunting dogs look for. Hoofprints of deer, I guess. Anyways, one of these dogs was different. It was a puppy--a stray--and it wandered back to our house with my friend Eli and me. We kept it and named it Sandy. Sandy is now a veteran of many wars and entanglements, including the ill-fated Battle of Sandy Vs. The Car and the comical Battle of Sandy's Head Vs. The Leg of the Kitchen Table. She's long in the tooth, gray in the muzzle, but her eyes are clear and she still knows who I am. Which is kind of a miracle--she went to "live" with our neighbor Lucy many years back, as Lucy has several dogs and Sandy is a social animal. She tends towards whoever has the most dogs or people around, and Lucy beat us, pooch for pooch, on that one.

However, my dad I noticed her walking stiffly--more stiffly than just arthritis would cause--the other day, as we were coming back from church. Further inspection revealed an odd-looking growth on her leg. So, earlier this week, I got an afternoon appointment for today and took a wary Sandy into the vet's office up in Scottsville. After some tissue samples and such, the vet told me that it wasn't cancer, but that he needed to operate as soon as he could, in order to do a proper repair job on her leg. I made an appointment for this Thursday and, on a whim, took Sandy down to the Scottsville levee. Apparently she forgets that she's 10...she made it up the levee faster than I did, and she acted like a much younger dog. I really miss the days when she was my dog, but the fact is that Sandy is no one's dog. She's a wanderer, a loveable hound who loves moving from place to place too much to really settle down. But age and stiff joints forced her to stop her travels, making her de facto ours and Lucy's dog. And today, walking along the levee, looking out at the levee while she strained at the leash, I felt closer to Sandy than I had to her, or any other dog, than I ever had.

Maybe it's something that came with age. Maybe it was because I sat with her in the examination room, petting her and telling her things would be okay, no matter what end. But there's a time when you realize that an animal trusts you--it's primally distinct among the myriad of human intuitions, the sense of being close to and bound to another being. And, while I was sad that Sandy and I had never been able to have that bond before, I realized that I don't have much time to waste mourning over that when there's time could be spent taking her to the park again and letting her enjoy what's always been ours to enjoy. The way she's going, barring any catastrophes, she should live to a ripe old age, and I plan to spend whatever time I can with her.

And at the same time, watching her and letting her walk me instead of actually walking her myself, I kind of realized how much time I have to do what I want, and it made me impatient to get back to the 'Burg. I guess it's an improvement over the time when a pet's illness would have kept me in a blue funk for days. On the other hand, I've been looking for reasons to cheer up for a while now. Guess in these times, I'll take whatever straws of hope float my way.

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