Friday, January 1, 2010

In the Eyes of a Dog

We have an older dog named Copper who turned 15 several months ago. She's a sweet old dog, and having spent a few days here at home over the holidays, I've seen a lot of Copper. The poor thing does the best she can -- she is blind and for the most part deaf, so she navigates around the house by bumping into things and taking alternate paths in territory that is still, even in a limited way, familiar to her. It's sad to see this, but actually, Copper doesn't seem to mind in the least. And when it's dinner time, she still jumps around as best she can to show that she's still very much in the game.

But lately, I've been wondering what's going through her mind. After all, dogs do dream -- we know that because we see them kicking, barking and running in their sleep, chasing after something which only they can see. Yesterday, I watched Copper as she lowered herself gently to the floor to take what must have been her seventeenth nap of the day, and it almost looked to me that she was thinking of something, trying to elicit a memory.

Concurrent with this, my wife has embarked on a massive scrapbooking project, trying to catch up with our lives for the last twenty years, and in some of the pictures, I see a younger, more mischievous Copper. As I watched Copper yesterday, I wondered if she might be thinking of any of the moments in time captured in the old photographs -- hanging with her old canine buddy Cody, long since departed, or Tonto, her feline partner in crime all those years ago. I can't help but think that in Copper's little mind, some of those scenes are still vivid, and that she calls them back on demand at times, just as we recall the pleasant, and sometimes unpleasant, memories of our own lives. I wonder.

Of course, the sad thing about this, depending on your point of view, is that every year of a dog's life is worth seven of ours. We dote on our pets these days, buying them all kinds of crazy toys, special diets, and even college team sweaters, but in the end, we can't extend their lives to match ours, though often we wish we could. So as this new year starts, I think I'm going to add to my list of resolutions a reminder to put myself in my pets' place from time to time, to try to see the world from their eyes. After all, to our pets, we are the world.

Happy New Year, everyone.