It seems most ironic to me, of the three of us in my family, that I am the one who seems most changed by the decline of our family friend. Yes, he is our pet. Our dog. But he has been an instrument of transformation for me, while he passes through his golden years. His name is Norman.
Seven years ago we found Norman in a shelter in Norton, Massachusetts. The animal control officer said that Norman had been found walking down the street with two other beagles, and that the other two had quickly been adopted out. Norman had been adopted, but had recently been returned. At the time, the vet estimated that he was eight years old.
Going out to the parking lot, we weren’t sure if he was capable of jumping or even crawling up into our Ford Taurus. After a few minutes of concerned deliberation, I felt obligated (if not slightly burdened) to airlift our rotund little friend into the backseat. But Norman had many surprises in store for us over the next several years. We soon discovered that Norman enjoyed going for rides and would enthusiastically leap in and out of the car whenever given the chance.
I could wane nostalgic concerning the exploits of our dear friend over the course of his life with us — but that is not why you are here. Still with me? Good! Let’s just suffice it to say that with a sense of refined mischief Norman became rather well known throughout our neighborhood. And when we would walk with him — strangers would stop us and ask, “Is this Norman?”
Being wise in his ways he would tell you, if he could, that patience almost always pays off. The proof of that is in the size of his “retirement account”.
Now duty calls, and the dog is staring me down; he’s looking for a drink. Since his back legs have become frail, I must once more airlift this old friend up and down the side steps realizing that he sometimes “forgets” to signal us that he needs to go outside. These days our buddy has no worry for a scolding when he fails. Who could be so cold as to admonish such a friend when a senior moment strikes?
Come on Norman, good boy! It’s time for your aspirin, and maybe just a little something for your “401k”.