Our 14 1/2-year old Beagle Templeton came home to us in January 1995. She was a Christmas gift to Don from me in 1994, and I still remember what I wrote on his card: “Your Christmas gift is four weeks old . . . ” He was ecstatic, to put it mildly. He had always wanted a dog, and Templeton was a dream come true.
Or was she?
She peed everywhere, tried to escape more than once, alternated between the occasional hunger strike and a life of crime stealing other people’s food, and made me cry more than once.
But, oh, was she loved. She had fancy collars, went for many, many walks, destroyed more than a few luxurious dog beds, and was photographed as much as any dog could have been.
Then, ten years later, human children entered our lives, and the resident canines were less than thrilled. The couch that was once really our dogs’ became the place where we sat to feed Oscar, then Edgar. And our dogs felt displaced–and for good reason, as the vet chastised reminded us.
Fast-forward five years and Templeton–though no longer “top dog”–is now an integral part of our warm weather activities, joining us in the yard and consenting to being walked by two very eager young men, who are growing stronger and more responsible every day. Templeton, on the other hand, is slowing down–way down; and though she still pulls in the opposite direction of where she’s supposed to be, it is not with the same vigor of the past, making her infinitely more manageable. And it is this confluence–growing boys and aging dog–that has allowed a relationship to blossom and form.
They love their dog; and I want to believe that Templeton loves them back–and not just because crumbs fall from them wherever they go (although that’s a plus to be sure). She may have been miffed that the boys took over her couch, but she seems to have gotten past it–accepting her new position in the family and loving them just the same. Templeton’s veterinarian would be proud–of all of us!