the blink of an eye

Our twelve-year-old chocolate lab, Rudy, is going deaf. He also doesn't see as well as he used to and it's possible he might be losing some of his mental faculties.

Yesterday, I took him out for our morning walk. It was sunny and eight degrees outside with a slight but cutting wind, the air thin and dry. I wore my long down jacket, fiber-filled pants, wool socks, fleece boots, wool hat and rabbit fur-lined gloves. I was still cold.

It wasn't surprising to be the only ones at the college athletic fields, which are covered in treacherous, half-melted, iced-over snow, and usually frequented by half a dozen or more dogs and their owners on any given morning. I kept a somewhat brisk pace, periodically glancing over my shoulder to ensure Rudy, exploring off-leash, was still in tow. Just before reaching the east end of the field I turned around to see Rudy just a couple of yards behind. Several steps further I looped around to head back. In those few seconds Rudy had vanished. I called out his name while running toward the stand of trees to the east, peering down the wooded lane between them. No Rudy. I hurdled the snow bank and frantically ran into the parking lot, searching. No Rudy. I headed into the brisk wind toward the AstroTurf field, calling, calling, calling. No Rudy. Where could he have disappeared to in such a brief moment? Finally, I spotted him a hundred yards away at the opposite end of a long stand of trees flanking the AstroTurf field. I could tell that he heard me, was looking with perked ears in every direction but mine. I held out my arms in a familiar way hoping he'd see me as well as recognize me. The dog finally honed in on my voice and began happily trotting my way, his ears flopping along as he gradually picked up the pace.

Utter relief. That's what I felt. "C'mon Rudy, lets go home," and I realized that my chin had become an ice cube, my face frozen by a wind-chill factor easily below zero. I thought about the panic parents must feel when they lose their children in a shopping mall or airport. And then I thought about the parents of the Sandy Hook Elementary students, the terror and dread they must have felt on that godforsaken day.

Be thankful for what you've got, I thought to myself, realizing that, in the blink of an eye, it can all disappear into thin air.

photo by Michael Kolster

1 comment:

  1. oh yes oh yes....thank everything for our good fortune in whatever form it may be. Being grateful is a form of beauty, one to be treasured while we have it.