Logan and I are no longer the sole objects of canine-directed attention in our family. We have been joined by a puppy named Bear.
At first, we thought that this addition would be temporary, much like the visit we had a while ago by Hank, the mini-Australian Shepherd who lives with one of the female humans that used to live here and her male human in their house not too far away from us. (Our humans referred to that visit as a “dog-sitting,” though what on earth sitting had to do with it escapes me completely.) We enjoyed having Hank with us, and would welcome him again any time, so long as any such visit is temporary. Bear’s presence with us does not appear intended to be temporary.
I guess I was a puppy once, though I have no real recollection of the experience. Based upon early indications, Bear the puppy is active, alert, full of energy, playful, and athletic. According to our humans, he is also “cute, “sweet,” “adorable” and “a handful.” If “a handful” means what I think it does, Logan and I would agree.
It has been raining for three days straight, which means that the three of us – Logan, Bear and myself – have been inside more than usual. Once Bear plopped down for a nap amidst all his chew toys (apparently meant to distract him from chewing just about anything and everything else that would upset our humans), Logan and I retired to a quiet corner to have a little conversation.
“Logan,” I said, “what are we going to do about this Bear puppy? He has completely upended our routine, and frankly, he’s exhausting.”
Logan chortled (note to self: I really need to figure out how he does that) and replied, “Cadbury, you are about to embark on what I hope will be a very long, and I know will be a very rewarding, journey as the older dog, friend and mentor to a young dog just coming into the world. This is a role that will seem strange to you at first, but I am confident that you will ultimately embrace it and find it to be one of the most satisfying roles you will ever play.”
“But I am not ready,” I protested, “You have been the one to give me wise advice and counsel. I am still in the learning phase; I do not see how I can teach Bear even a fraction of what you have taught me over the years.”
“None of us is ever really prepared for life,” said Logan. “It comes as it wills, when it wills. We have no choice but to greet it with whatever skills and talents we possess. We are called upon to do our best with what we have, at the moment and in the moment. If we simply do that, all will be as it is meant to be.”
“The time has come, your time has come, to be for Bear what I hope I have been for you. Embrace the challenge. I promise you, whatever effort you put into it will be rewarded many times over.”
“I may not be with you much longer. I know that, and you do too, even if you choose to deny it to yourself. Bear’s arrival has actually been a wonderful gift to me.”
“When I came into this family myself as a puppy, my older dog, Charlie, had already lost his older dog, Buddy. And I had lost Charlie before you arrived. Charlie spoke to me of the emptiness he experienced when he was alone, and of how my arrival (and yes, I was apparently just as annoying as Bear) gave him a new sense of meaning and purpose. I experienced that sense of emptiness and loss when Charlie died, and later found true joy in helping you along your journey of growth and discovery.“
“The gift I have been given is the chance to meet and get to know Bear, and to know that your transition from younger dog to older dog will be easier, as you will be spared the pain of loneliness, even for the very shortest of time. That warms my heart and gives me comfort in the time I have left.”
“Stop that talk, please,” I blurted out. “I have too much to learn from you yet before I can ever hope to be of help to Bear. I need your wisdom, perhaps now more than ever.”
“Well,” said Logan, “you flatter me. But what you call wisdom is simply the accumulated benefit of more years upon this earth. I am roughly twice your age. Is it any surprise that I have experienced more than you have, and perhaps had more time to reflect on those experiences?”
“You will hopefully have many more years to collect experiences. Some of those will have been with me, others with Bear. Wisdom is not something fixed in time or place; it is ever-adapting. Your wisdom will be particular to you, as mine has been to me. You will share your wisdom with Bear, to his great advantage I am sure, and he in turn will develop his own wisdom to perhaps be shared with yet another younger dog. In this way, we each incorporate within ourselves a bit of all the dogs that go before us, and maybe even a little of those we have a chance to mentor.”
“I feel that Charlie is always with me. You may come to feel the same about me. And is possible that Bear will in turn carry a little bit of both of us. That thought makes me very happy indeed.”
“Now, Cadbury, I encourage you to have a bit more patience with Bear as he navigates his puppiness. You were more than a bit of a terror yourself, but somehow, I survived!”
At which point Logan settled down for a nap himself with what I swear was the slightest hint of a grin on his face.