Saturday, March 29, 2008

91 years old and crawling around the house on all fours.

At least that’s what her age would be if one uses the standard seven to one ration when determining a dog’s relative age. Maggie is a miniature dachshund who we are dog sitting for my sister while she is visiting her fiancée’s family in the DC area. I’ve known her all her life (the dog that is – I’ve known my sister all her life too – but this post is about her dog) and she is a good wiener dog.

For being a nonagenarian she gets around pretty well. Granted she lists from side to side when she totters around the house her rat tail clicking back and forth with the precision of a German cuckoo clock’s pendulum and she does sleep most time – but all in all she’s hanging in there.

Mag’s hearing isn’t what it used to be – one needs to be relatively loud to get her attention. Standing ten feet away I pretty much have to yell to get her notice and even then when she cocks her head it’s more akin to her remembering what it was like to perceive some high pitched noise in the far distance rather than actually hearing it. Eventually she gets the idea that I want her go outside once she sees through her cataracted and milky eyes that the rest of the canines in the household are headed out the open door. She dodders behind our other two dogs not exactly sure where she is going or why but she doesn’t want to be any trouble and if they are all going this way, well then she probably should be too.

She reminds me of old women one sees on the street in an ethnic neighborhood. Insert whatever locality modified by the adjective "Little" – Italy, Greek Town, Poland, or India whatever – these ancient women are ubiquitous to the sidewalks in these enclaves. Babushka-ed and wrinkled, long sleeved black sweaters in 90 degree humidity - hands as if carved from apples left to dry clutching a hardwood cane.

They stand outside of church entrances or at bus stops with wire wheeled shopping baskets that for the life of you, you would never believe they could move. Seemingly frail, but sinuous and tough as worn leather these are the old women one reads about in the news of the weird section of the paper. The ones who subdue would be purse snatchers with a crack of the cane across the mouth, using the muscle memory of countless chickens beheaded.

This is who Maggie is – a tough old broad who can be forgiven peeing on the carpet every now and then.

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