Many splendid things have happened to me since last spring: a move cross country, the first time I purchased a home for love, moving near family I’ve seen too little of over the years. I feel released from the last decade of facing old age—not only the hardship of caring for elderly parents but realizing I’ve arrived on the senior doorstep myself. With this move to Texas, I feel like a new woman. The wonder of what I feel in this newness is reflected in a little canine face: the face of my beagle Kelly.
Kelly lost her sister Laney just before we made this move. It’s not that the loss seemed to depress her; we’ve only had her a short time and adjusting to a bigger dog who picked on her was tough. She’s a timid little being, though she musters through most of what life throws her way without too much complaint. She doesn’t bay; she doesn’t bark or chew, and she whines only a little. But I wouldn’t have said she had a lot of personality until we moved to Texas.
Our new home holds as much fascination for Kelly as it does for the two humans who purchased it. Unlike us, she isn’t in awe of the crown molding, tile floors, big rooms or the newness of the community. For Kelly, it’s all about the back yard. I get up every morning and make a cup of coffee, then sit on the back patio. At first I was there to appreciate the weather, which happened to be beautiful the first weeks we moved, and the pecan trees, which are huge and leafy and grand. The weather got hot, the yard got muggy and buggy, but I still go out there and sit, and I still enjoy the heck out of it … for another reason. I let Kelly out and she races to the end of a short stone pathway, then plops her little butt down to survey her kingdom. Those beautiful trees are home to dozens of squirrels and birds and bugs. There are neighborhood canines that occasionally come out to visit at the fence.
She’ll wait until she sees action—a squirrel travelling a branch, a deer in the neighbor’s yard. Then she races close to the action and squats to watch her doggy movies. Then, something will distract her across the yard and she’ll run to that spot as if she’d decided to change channels or flip a page in the “book” she’s reading. We have a very tough time getting her to come back into the house at all. When she’s in the yard, she’s entered her own little world where I’m sure she sees things and reacts to things in ways we mere humans cannot comprehend.
I never thought of a dog as having an imagination. But I can see her mind creating a world in our backyard that exists only for her. When she comes to us finally after repeatedly calling her, she has a smile on her face. “Okay Mom and Dad. I’m here. Let’s get this eating or hydration or nap time thing out of the way so I can get back out there and play.” She’s usually all by herself out there in the yard, but she’s never alone.
After this experience, no one can tell me that a dog doesn’t smile, doesn’t dream, doesn’t create. My pup, like me, is filled with the possibilities this new world presents.–Genilee Swope Parente