I look into your eyes, Brutus...and I wonder.
So often, I wonder just what it is that you are thinking.
And...for a moment...I see myself in your eyes.
For, you see, we are both aging and we are both doing our best to do so gracefully.
You are, without a doubt, the smartest dog I have ever known.
In fact, you are far smarter than many of the people who have crossed my path over the years.
I do not say that in jest. It is quite true.
You are exceptionally smart and I am exceptionally blessed to have you as a part of my life.
I remember the day that you came to us.
You stayed with us for several weeks as a foster, tho I cannot remember exact dates anymore.
For you see, like you...I am aging a bit, too.
I do remember, however, that Ben and I both were fascinated and amazed by you. We still are.
It was with a heavy heart that I took you to meet your new mom.
I gave her all sorts of instructions about what to expect from you.
She was adopting an older dog, but I think she had puppy expectations.
Sadly, many do.
The very next day she called me. She was angry.
She said that I had given her a 'handicapped dog'. At that moment I knew where you belonged.
Instead of giving her tips or telling her that there is always a period of adjustment, I told her that I would take you back.
She seemed relieved...but I don't think that she was as relieved as either you or I were.
You had played at my house for weeks with nary a limp.
I had warned her about your injury and that you loved to play...you were smarter than she was.
That much was obvious.
The three hour drive to pick you up was not a problem at all.
I returned her adoption fee, took your leash, and secretly smiled.
I was happy to be bringing you back 'home'.
You certainly deserved better than the fancy house with the fancy attitudes.
I don't remember everything these days, but I do remember that ride home.
I remember it well. You and I were both smiling.
I also remember when Ben came home from school that day.
I am still not sure who was smiling bigger that day.
That was the day you became a member of our family.
Interestingly, the limp and the 'handicap' that the lady had complained about were never seen again.
I often wondered if you planned it that way.
I would not be surprised if you had. You're a very smart dog.
You and Ben have always had a special bond.
I still remember the day he went to college.
I thought that you had somehow slipped away.
You were nowhere to be found.
I was worried sick.
I called and called. I looked and looked.
Finally, at the end of the day I headed up to bed.
No Ben. No Brutus.
When I walked past his bedroom, you let out a big sigh and looked at me with sad, sad eyes.
You were lying on his bed looking as though your best friend had deserted you.
I hugged you and cried and said, "I know, Bru...I'm going to miss him, too."
You and I have shared many moments over the years.
You moped around for a few weeks.
Truth be told, I did, too.
But, pretty soon we settled into a new routine.
That's how life is.
We played, we worked, and you remained my loyal companion.
I can only hope that I have been as good a friend to you as you have been to me.
You love to play...and still do.
But, even more, you love to work.
I always tried to find little jobs for you, as I know that it made you happy.
Whether it was helping me to herd the turkeys or to disperse the roosters
You always took your job very seriously.
You have always been complex and I have always wondered what you were thinking.
But, now...I wonder so even more.
I see myself in your eyes.
I see my parents in your eyes.
You still have the heart of a puppy.
Your mind is still sharp, but your body is slowing down.
As your eyesight is failing and your reflexes are slowing
I often wonder how you must feel to be aging.
You were sleeping beside me and you were young again.
Your feet were running, your breathing was fast and you even barked a bit.
It made me smile.
This is probably what it is like to be in a nursing home where you spend your day sleeping.
These days, you must carefully plan your jump up onto the sofa next to me.
I can see in your eyes the calculation, the worry, and the relief as you make ithe now big leap.
What once came so easily is now work.
You snore, you eat, and you get let outside to go potty...always under watchful eyes.
I have seen you try to sneak away to do something fun in the woods.
I find it amusing that you pretend like you don't hear me when it is time to come in.
I know that you do. You hurry faster to the woods the more I call your name.
I wonder...will I be like that? Will I want to make a run for it?
When the time comes that my kids want me to slow down so I don't break a hip someday,
Will I pretend that I don't hear them and hurry faster in my shuffling old lady way?
I hope that I will. I am taking lessons from you.
I know that you don't like the idea of being helped very much.
I can see your embarrassment as I lift you up onto the bed when the other dogs need no help.
You are proud and I know that you would rather have a job.
I suspect that I will feel the same way when I am your age (in dog years), too.
We all need to feel needed and capable and loved. We all need jobs.
Maybe, just maybe, your job has changed, Brutus.
In fact, I hadn't realized it until recently, myself.
You have aged a lot this past year. You're almost fourteen.
Now you have a new job...and just like the old job, you are very good at it.
It may not be as active as you would like it to be, but that's how it goes when we get older.
That's just all part of the circle of life.
We change...our jobs change.
Although you may not always see your own contribution,
You have a really big job. Bigger than ever before.
Your job, my loyal and loving friend, is just to be loved.