Tonight I walked up the driveway, a shadow backlit by streetlight at my side, familiar yet not: a limping dog. I brought Sam in by the gate, encouraged him to do what was necessary, then brought him in the back way, up the ramp meant for Molly. At the vet we talked about her a lot; it's hard not to when we go there, especially when Sam has gone suddenly, strangely lame.
I don't mean to compare them, but because they are both–she was and he is–Bernese Mountain Dogs, and because they were young together and because I love them both so much and because I miss her sharply and sweetly, her name comes up when we talk about orthopedics and NSAIDs and Tramadol and the whole array of things that became painfully familiar during her short lifetime.
Sam has his own story, of dietary indiscretions and days spent receiving fluids, of x-rays tracking BIPS through his digestive system, of the famous "sockectomy" performed in his youth.
But, oh, she wanders back into the conversation.
Sam's sudden onset of lameness with no known injury may suggest a tick-borne illness, but the test at the vet's office did not confirm it. We're resting him and giving him something for pain and waiting to see if he improves. He whimpered on rising when I came home today, but he also expressed eagerness to go out when I got his leash off the hook, and he ate dinner with enthusiasm.
Molly did so many things with enthusiasm, if they were her ideas. I've said many times she taught me a lot about love, about loving the world and the people in it unconditionally. Maybe it's time for her to teach me something else. Molly lived with limitations, but if she really wanted something, she took off after it. Even with a limp, even with lameness in all four legs, she ran toward the things that appealed to her, toward the promise of the horizon, toward the future we can only begin to imagine.