Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Final Walk

I could feel her moving while I was in that comfort-place between sleep and wakefulness.  She made her way over the top of the comforter and lay on the pillow beside my head.  Her warm breath and moist tongue were soon working on my ear.  It had become her way of saying, “hey you…human person.  I gotta go pee”.

I opened my eyes and reached up and took Suzie in my arms and laid her on my belly.  Her eyes sparkled and her tongue reached out and licked my forehead.  I lay there, watching her for a few moments before getting out of bed and putting some clothes.  I put her leash on and walked to the door as I wiped the sleep out of my eyes.  She was on her hind legs, waving at the door with her paws by the time I opened it and I walked her to the back yard so she could take care of her business.

Suzie started up the concrete walk and when she reached the end of her leash, she turned and looked at me…and then back up to the gate that led to the street.  I usually just allowed her to go to the bathroom in the back yard unless I was planning on taking her for a walk, which wasn’t my plan when I left the house.  She gave a gentle pull on the leash and looked at me again.  If her eyes could talk, she definitely would have been saying something like, “come on, let’s go for a real walk…please!!!”  I looked to the sky as she turned back and stared at the gate.

With a smile on my face, I started walking and headed for the gate by the garage with Suzie at a quick trot in front of me.  She was already pushing on the gate with her front paws by the time I reached it.  I opened it and we headed out on to the street for a morning walk…our LAST morning walk.  Mary and Adam had been offered a job in Las Vegas and they were leaving first thing in the morning so this would be our last day together. 

We started walking north up the quiet street…Suzie taking off at a run until she reached the end of the leash held by someone who was out for a leisurely walk.  Then it would be her walking on her hind legs pulling on the taut leash line.  I’d give a gentle tug and she would fall back to all fours and continue her adventure, stopping every now and then to sniff at the marks of the dogs and cats who had gone before her.  She would occasionally turn and run back my direction but she rarely made it that far.  Some sound, or color or smell would grab her attention and off she would pull in a different direction.

The half-mile loop had become a regular walking route for us during our time together.  What had originally been planned as a 3 month dog-sitting adventure for my niece and her husband had turned into 7 months while they looked for a new job.  The extension hadn’t bothered me much…Suzie was pretty easy to fall in love with (most of the time). 

We took our walk around the loop with a half dozen stops so Suzie could leave her mark on top of those that she found.  She zig-zagged back and forth, going from one side of the street to the other.  An early riser getting the newspaper out of her paper box brought a few sharp barks from her and a smile from the 50-something lady in her long terry cloth robe. 

As we rounded the last corner, Suzie stopped to get a quick drink from a small puddle that had accumulated some rain from over night.  A quick tug pulled her away and we started down the last stretch toward the house.  We approached the driveway and she instinctively turned and walked down toward the gate and waited, her little tongue hanging out.  As I turned to close the gate as we walked through, I looked  back at the street and smiled…thankful for one final walk with Suzie. 

1 comment:

Deb Shucka said...

I'm so glad you wrote this, even though it broke my heart to read. You are a good and generous man and I know Suzie will miss you forever, as you will miss her. Even if you are getting to sleep through the night again. :-)