As I sit down in my bedroom platform rocker, which used to be my mother’s favorite, and am in the midst of taking off clothes for an evening shower, my little dog Chewy strolls in to stop and stare at me before crawling into his bed at the foot of mine.
I stare back for a moment. It’s his habit that if I’m out of sight for 30 seconds he will pat-pat in to find me, and verify what he thinks I’m up to before he settles down. As we square off looking at each other, I try to break the standoff and ask him, “So, how was your day?” No response.
“Well, did you have fun today?” Probably a silly question, come to think of it: he has two fenced yards with dog-door access so he can check out the street and alley action. But there’s not that much action on a Sunday—less traffic, fewer people walking their dogs (we did ours in the morning), etc. But the big hole in the day is that there is no mail-person invading our driveway and dropping who-knows-what through the slot in our garage entry door. That event, plus the walk we take and sniffing the local dog-news stops, is his highlight—and it doesn’t happen on Sunday. So, it’s a stupid question to ask. And, right of him not to answer.
And actually, how would I answer that question, if asked, which he didn’t. But, I’ll give it a go anyway since we had a friend (now deceased) who was always asking Ginny and me, “What did you do for fun today?” Ginny and I would smile, give a little chuckle, look questioningly at each other, and ask him what he did. You see, I guess we had a different outlook on the idea of having “fun.” Every day we considered to be a good day if it was rewarding, got needed stuff done, enjoyable, not bad—that sort of thing. Fun was an emotional response to something that happened to us, usually quite brief, had a lot of adrenaline, etc. involved. Now, that’s not something we expected every day, but from what we knew of our friend, it was a major goal of his to have daily—and continuously, if possible. And I think Chewy would agree with our outlook on life since the almost daily mail-person encounter certainly is an emotional high for him.
“Ok, was it a bad day?” Now, aside from the lack of mail delivery that would qualify, I try to think of what could have made him have a bad day. So, he does have more age-related physical problems anymore, such as some back leg joints causing him to take some hops on the back legs out of sequence, his eyes water over a lot and squint more, he misjudges jumps and distances frequently, and gets lost if I let him walk without a leash and doesn’t know where I am even if I’m just 10 feet away. And he looks pretty much his 15 ½ yrs since the normally dark hair cap on his head is turning quite grey now. I take a glance at the “mirror, mirror, on the wall”… Yep, we’re both about on schedule for that measure, with me at 79.
But then, he doesn’t think about these things. Not like me, as I try to measure the value of each day—particularly anymore, as to how much I overdid weed-pulling, bush-trimming, and stone pathway-building in the gardens according to how many aches and pains I have and where they are… and shouldn’t be because I faithfully do my daily routines of stretching, balance, range-of-motion, etc. But there are always muscles that don’t get the message, so I try to figure out how to do it better. Sometimes it may make a difference for next time, but other times, not so much. Nope, Chewy doesn’t think about these things. He just does what pops into that pert little chihuahua-rat terrier mix head of his and nixes the evaluation part.
“Maybe you simply had an OK day?” So, what, then, would be a just OK day for Chewy, or me, for that matter. Hm-m-m, I guess it would be a day that didn’t have any emotional burst of fun, nor something that was bad—as in doing something stupid to get an injury, such as not watching more closely what I was snipping on the rhododendron bush with my sharp pruner and coming away with only a small slice of my skin instead of a cut muscle. Or for Chewy, taking a three-step jump down the walkway stairs instead of the usual one or two, and limping for the next minute—until he got on the scent of the first dog-news spot for the day.
Nothing fun nor bad. I guess I can live with that definition, especially once you toss in Ginny’s and my lifelong definition of a “good day”, and the realization that most days in a lifetime are usually that way, if you have a good combination of fortuitous circumstances and sensible decisions about them—and smile more than frown.
“So, Chewy, how was your day?” Chewy finally stops staring at me, stretches his front legs out with tail-end in the air, yawns a big one, crawls into his bed, tucking tightly in a ball, and closes his eyes.
I finish undressing and go take my shower.