How the Hen House Turns: Conversations With Dogs, Pt. 2

How the Hen House Turns
Conversations With Dogs, Pt. 2
Column by Carolyn A. (Cary) Neeper, Ph. D.

Like the body language Poncho used to ask about going on a pack trip, Scooter these days uses the same language to make her wishes known. After two weeks, she gave up looking for her littermate and lifetime companion DeeDee.

Spoiling her with added attention seemed to help. Oddly, having only one dog again slipped a minor cog in my brain, and I often called her Poncho.

Scooter is 14 now, and on many cold, windy days she would prefer not to patrol the yard while the birds take their morning swim in the stock tank. It is in her languid eyes and her failure to follow me to the back door when I say “It’s time to get Lucy up.”

I remember dog trainer Marilyn Bjorklund saying that her elder dog may not want to go through her paces to demonstrate good leash behavior for our class. She respected the dog’s age, and I will do the same for Scooter.

Most days she remembers the biscuit reward, and she will come out to watch the birds. I don’t leave her out for long. She paces, and the exercise is good for her arthritis, but she never makes the painful effort to lie down until she comes into the house. Then she is exhausted and sleeps the rest of  the day.

She is eating well and wags her tail when I appear, so I know that she still enjoys life. Old dogs are good at hiding their pain, so I will have to be careful that I don’t prolong her life just to satisfy my own needs. There is something in her trusting eyes that confirms my being.

Her huge smile is unmistakable when I appear in the morning with a duck egg for her breakfast. When I remember to add a half cup of water to her dog biscuits, she doesn’t hesitate quite so long before she eats them. She still manages to go through the dog doors and down the back stairs, and she doesn’t complain when she falls. I can’t seem to convince her that she needs to take the stairs one at a time.


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