My mother called me the other day to ask about my dog. She has two dogs and is an animal lover. I was worried she may be hoarding animals, but two cats and two dogs do not make up a "hoard". Her question was easy to answer, Scruffy the Poodle is old and I answer anyone who asks: " every day with him is a gift." You see, he is quite an old poodle. I don't know how old to be exact, but he's been with me for 13 years and he was already an adult when I found him wandering the streets of South Dade. Scruffy was a feral poodle.
I often tell people that there are packs of feral poodles running behind Bloomingdales at the Falls Shopping Center, taking down unsuspecting South Dade matrons and mauling them. Scruffy the Poodle is not a particularly outstanding poodle. He's basically a piece of white cotton candy with three dots for a face. Two dark eyes and a small black nose that are not particularly expressive. Yet it's that simple lack of expressiveness that makes him see more toy-like and adorable. He has always walked on wobbly, unbending legs which makes him look like he's a wind-up toy. He's small, I never realize how small until I see him with other dogs, because to me he's seems to be the perfect dog for the city. He's not yappy or aggressive and never has been. He has the uncanny ability to dislike the same people I do, especially certain close relatives. (If he growls at you, rest assured I don't like you either.)
Recently the vet suggested "I prepare myself" for "the inevitable". I've calculated that he has spent about 14,000 hours sitting in my lap or sleeping in my arms. In his lifetime we've easily walked 7,000 miles together and he's been a true friend every step of the way. Now , he's sleeping about 18 hours a day, right at my feet. His little legs twitch as he dreams.
I recently read a book called "Old Dogs" by Gene Weingarten and Michael S. Williamson. It was an homage to the dogs that have spent their lives as our faithful companions. It is quite a touching in it's simplicity, describing the animal in it's peak and then how it has earned it's spot on a front porch, lawn or corner of the den. Soulful eyes and an occasional bark to remind us that, hey! I'm still here, still here for you. From the day I found him to our last day together, Scruffy.....every day is a gift.