After our R.E.A.D. programs at the local elementary schools every week, Tango exits the schools then takes me on a short sniff walk.
He’s almost nine years old now. Our walks are a little different now than they were even two or three years ago. They’re more…aimless now. When he was younger, he’d follow my lead, keep up with my pace changes, look to me for where we were going and what we’d do.
Today, though, I noticed that Tango definitely led the walk. We went at his pace, he sniffed where he wanted, and he was much less open to my suggestions.
I’m not particularly keen on watching my boy age. There’s no alternative — no acceptable one, that is — to seeing him get old, I know that. But on today’s sniff walks, he seemed more “old man” than usual.
His face is getting gray, yes it’s true. You can see the old man face coming in. For a long time, I was so proud of his “puppy face.” Wherever we’d go, people would ask his age and be surprised when I’d say 5 or 6 — even 7 years old. “But he looks like just a pup!” they’d exclaim. I’d smile and say “yes, he’ll be forever a pup.”
Now, though, he’s growing into his old and wise face that comes only with age. I never thought about Tango aging. Why would I? He’d never be anywhere but by my side for the rest of my life, right? I don’t even need to think about life after Tango, do I?
Oh, he’s still spry and frisky and ready to roll — he’s not done living yet! (Regarless of my melancholy post…) He’ll still chase the tennis ball enthusiastically, he’ll still jump in and play with the others when the ruckus is just right. And as much as I love the face of an old dog, it does give me pause, makes my heart stop for just a beat, for I simply can’t bear to think about how quickly dogs live their lives.
Tango’s only nine — he’s got quite a few years left. And my melancholy mood will be fleeting, I’m sure. It just feels odd to enter another phase of Tango’s life — his mature years. It’ll take some getting used to on my part.