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October 17 2012

Are We Not Beggars, All?

I have gotten older, and my decadent life at Faded Glory sometimes seems to catch up with me. I still engage as a younger dog would, but I find that my days are punctuated by, and structured around -- treats and the kindnesses of others.

Once upon a time a feeling of boredom would have precipitated a short run into the National Forest or an attempt to bring some unexpected discomfort to my friend, Spook. If I were really bored, I might have taken off on an impromptu trip over the mountains to Vanzandt's store. But now, I am satisfied to amble into Louella's kitchen and make a feast of a few dough scraps left over from the morning's baking. Don't get me wrong, I still make my monthly trek to Vanzandt's store, but I generally choose a time when I have had plenty of rest and my doggy testosterone levels are high.

Speaking purely from a dog's point of view, I am beginning to see that, as we age, our geographical range of operations seems to get smaller; our expectations become altered; and, through our own laziness, we are more willing to "settle" for less, keeping pace with our negotiating skills which are dwindling, as well.

When I was in my prime, I would cruise the Inn, size up the toddlers and elderly folks among our guests to see what treats they were consuming. Then, I'd select the best candidate for my 'food eyes." Or, I'd merely resort to out-and-out thievery (snatch and run). These days, I'll settle for the first easy mark that comes my way. In human-speak, this cruel phenomenon is known as "mellowing."

We all survive at the whim of others; not just us dogs, but you folks, too! All my life I have patiently waited for doors to be opened so that I could go out, Purina to be placed in my food bowl, ticks to be plucked from my fur, wormings and anal gland draining at Dr. Stubbs' office, and a host of other disgusting life and health-sustaining services. Although the expression "no man is an island" was coined specifically for my human counterparts, it also aptly applies to pets, and it gives meaning to my continuing dependency on my human friends.

The human race also survives at the pleasure of others. How far would you get in this world without physicians, caregivers, lawmakers, law enforcement officers, farmers, craftsmen and clergymen? Just like us more fortunate dogs, you are surrounded by your own support group, almost from the womb to the tomb. Just thank God that we are a nation of laws. Things could get pretty hairy around here if we were a nation of anarchists. Of course, many animals living in your world see you as a nation of cannibals, unless you are, by choice, a vegetarian.

We dogs arrive on this earth with nothing, and we will accumulate nothing tangible during our short stay here. We depend on you for our love, care and sustenance; and all we can really offer in return is our unconditional love. You humans can depend on your families, friends, and even your tax dollars for your happiness, safety and sustenance and, if there is any money left over, you can buy the additional goods and services to assure you of an even more comfortable existence. But, in this culture, living totally independent of others has become a virtual impossibility. You can build all the walls you want, but an open portal to your castle will still be necessary for your assistance or exit strategy.

Whether we like it or not, life is made up of a series of exchanges. We are all on the same boat, and at some time we will have to depend upon the charity of others in order to carry on. Some cynics will say that "there is no free lunch," and, I guess, if you decide to interpret your existence in that way, they may be partially right. The humans that I meet at Faded Glory seem to be generous to a fault. I am constantly amazed at the inherent goodness that I see in our many visitors.

As we age, we physically change. We are all trying to outrun the relentless 'pull' of gravity. Although we all know that gravity will eventually win, we try to postpone its victory for as long as possible. If we are lucky, our brains and our indelible spirits will serve us well until the day that we no longer need them. Until then, I will continue to shamelessly depend on the charity of others.

It rained hard last night here at the Inn, and the yard is laced with tempting mud puddles of all sizes. The sun has come out bright, and I think I'll take a run out there and roll around in one of the puddles just for the heck of it. After all, who says I'm an old dog! Isabel or Micah will promptly appear with a towel, scold me, and dry me off. Then, maybe, I'll find a little extra treat in my food bowl. Yes, life is good!

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