I have a typical teenager in my house; wakes up late, rushes through the chores, grabs his backpack and then hurries off to school. The dogs wolf down their chow, accompany him to feed the horses and wait outside the door on the wild chance they might catch a scratch behind the ears or a “good dog” as he passes by. The car drives off takin’ him to school. They watch with the faint hope that somehow it might breakdown or turn around and come back. Alas, after it disappears from sight they disperse deflated, maybe the way spectators do after a NASA launch, back to their mundane existence.
The dogs glimpse at me but unless I call, they plop down on the porch or go sniffing around the place for something, or anything. Killing time until … their boy comes home! At 3:30 p.m. they surround the returned car, jostling for position, lining up to be recognized, acknowledged, petted, loved.
If you were able to ask the dogs what they did all day, they probably couldn’t tell you … just piddling, chase a rabbit, find a bone, bark at the javalina, but mostly just wait.
And I doubt if they have any sense of how much time has elapsed since the boy’s morning departure. I mean, what’s time to a dog. Any consciousness of it disappears the instant the boy opens the car door. They live for the moment.
He scratches and rubs and pats them as they circle him, tails banging, tongues lolling, whimpers of ‘pet me, pet me!’, bobbin’ like seals in the water, all beggin’ for attention. Oh, and so sad when the teen, preoccupied with urgency, goes inside, pushing through his canine fan club without so much as a howdy. They are stunned; no, confused. “We’ve waited all day, however long that is,” they must be thinking, “Why didn’t he stop? Where did he go?”
But then their minds quickly reset and they resolutely lie down by the door, knowing their boy is home and they have a good chance of seeing him next time the door comes open, even if it is the next morning. And I watch all this drama, wishing I could impress on my son the importance of appreciating their devotion and how even a simple pat on the head lasts all day.
Then I remember my own youth and it wasn’t ‘til I was a grown man with teens of my own that it dawned on me to thank my Mother, to call her occasionally. So, I guess what goes around comes around.
Remember, there’s always time to pet your dog.