Doug Bruns

Casco Bay, Maggie, and a Winter Storm.

In Death, Dogs, Writers on January 2, 2010 at 8:30 pm

“It is easy to forget that in the main we die only seven times more slowly than our dogs.” ~ Jim Harrison, The Road Home

Maggie. Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful.

I’ve written of the Harrison quote before. I haunts me. I am a dog person. That is only part of it. I am also acutely aware of, dare I say?, dying. That’s the other thing.

We are given to reflection at year’s end. I will spare you that. (Thank god, you sigh.) No reflection or such similar gibberish. But being a dog person gives one opportunity for contemplation. We die more slowly than our dogs, says Harrison. So imagine how fast they die. Are dogs given to reflection? I think not. I’ve heard it said that dogs have no conception of time. How anyone would know this, I can’t explain. But it makes sense. Maggie seems as excited when I return to her after and hour as she does after a week. Indeed, if a dog where to live being so present, then perhaps the accelerated pace of their existence is not all that bad. But that is just a guess, a mere hopeful consolation.

* * *

It was snowing this morning on our walk to the Eastern Prom. Snowing hard. Quiet and no one around type snowing. I heard the waves crashing, which is not normal. But the storm was coming from the northeast and whipping up the bay and slamming it into the rocks–that’s when the phrase “turning the tide” came to mind–and with it thoughts of all the things over which we have no control. Like dying. Like our dogs dying. Like the rise and fall of a tide, the turning of the calendar page, the beginning of a new decade. And all that that entails. Which is a lot.

It is natural to think more about the end than the beginning, I think, as you grow older. At fifty-four, I don’t think about it all that much, the end. But I do think about it more than I think about the beginning, that I know. And sometimes it startles me. That’s when I get comfort being around a dog. I know they don’t think of such things. If they did, their eyes would show it, that self-possessed knowledge of the end, and I’ve never seen that in a dog’s eyes. Yes, we die more slowly, and our leisurely pace affords us time to think of such things.

Such it is that the tide rises in the morning and goes out in the afternoon.

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