Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Old Dogs in Springtime

Because of the manhunt I couldn't get to Boston to see P. on Friday, so I fled New York to the farm to dog-sit for my parents. I've kept it private for the most part, but you might as well know: Mac's back legs started to go soon after we moved back from India, slowly at first, but now he's completely paralyzed from the shoulders back. Mac (also known on this blog as Biscuit) has been my copilot for twelve years. He is my Life Dog. Steadfast and lionhearted, he's defended me from coyotes, rattlesnakes, scorpions, and the vicissitudes of the heart, but late-onset degenerative myelopathy is getting the better of him in his otherwise spry old age back on the farm. (His body is crippled but he's liberated when he dozes; as I write this, his front paws are twitching as he chases something in a dream.)

I spent six hours answering Block Shop emails Sunday afternoon with Mac at my feet, then at five o'clock I poured myself a bourbon, set my jaw, and headed out to the barn. I rifled through the storage and boxes of baling twine in the now-empty hayloft until I found our ancient Radio Flyer, which contained a mouse-nibbled garbage bag labeled "CHILDREN'S SHOES / 4 GOODWILL" in my mother's neat, faded handwriting. There's probably a word in German for the feeling of finding a forgotten bag of one's childhood shoes, but I don't know what it is.

I loaded Mac into the wagon and took him for a walk down to the edge of the woods where rogue daffodils come up every spring. Mac sniffed the breeze perched like a regal Maharajah atop his palanquin while Dolly chased voles and I filled my bucket.

My ninth grade English teacher made us memorize and recite Wordsworth, but I can only ever remember the first two couplets of Daffodils. But sometimes two couplets is plenty, and I recited them for Mackerel as I pulled him up the hill through the boggy spring fields and back to the house.

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud
(or, Daffodils)

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

–William Wordsworth, 1807


  1. Oh Lily, this is beautiful. Mac is lucky to have such a caring and thoughtful person by his side.

    1. Aw, thanks Yossy. You are so sweet. xo

  2. People that love their dogs this much are reserved special places in heaven. You are giving Mac a lot of happiness for his lion heart.

    Thoughts with you.

    And I'm sorry. Losing a furry loved one ranks amongst the most heartbreaking things in all the world.

  3. I am holding back tears at my desk at work. Such a lucky puppy to have a mom like you.

  4. Same here, you almost made me cry. As the "mother" of two fur balls and having lost one (to old age) a few years ago I know how much we can care for these creatures and how much they give us in return.
    It sounds like you both had a lovely time together.

    On another note - I live in Europe but managed to buy one of your scarfs and have it sent to a friend in the USA. It should arrive sometime this week. I so look forward to wearing it and I already know it will be my new favorit scarf.

  5. The picture with the crown is SO endearing!!

    I came across this Kahlil Gibran quote yesterday:

    “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain…When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”


  6. Oh, Lily. Sending you so much love. Pups, they steal your heart. I'm so glad you & Mac have had each other for so long. (And he looks so sweet with that daffy crown.)


  7. this is the perfect spring post: gorgeous flowers, green grass, and cute puppies (ok, old dogs, but shh, we don't say that to their faces). i'm so happy you got to spend some time unwinding with your fur-husband. <3

  8. A lump sits in my throat after reading about your sweet Mac. There is nothing more reassuring than a furry companion. Your photos of Mac so sweetly capture his spirit.

  9. Beautiful post, Lily. How lucky Mac is to have a momma who crafts him flower crowns and takes him on wagon walks through the sunny fields.

  10. Beautiful. Love your Biscuit so much. That poem always makes me want to return to the Lake District and Dove Cottage.

  11. Gorgeous photo story Lil. That's the loveliest thing ever written about the saddest thing! Hewwwwww!!! Worst part of having dogs is the getting old part. Cheers to wagons and dogs who love daffodils!

  12. Beautiful photos, beautiful poem (during National Poetry Month, no less). And a beautiful ode to an old dog... Been down that road, and appreciate the gentle slope you and Mac now take.

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  14. I have a corgi, too, and your post brought a few tears to my eyes. What a handsome lad you have there. I bet he loved his wagon ride. :)

    PS. Mine likes to stick his nose in the wind, too.

  15. My Life Dog (curled up under the covers with me) has IVDD and though the diagnosis came a year ago, I have no deeper understanding of how one is supposed to watch your dearest heart decline. Walks outside through changing seasons are some of our most beautiful moments as well. Sending love and wishes for long dreams of slow voles.

  16. Etta is sleeping here with her head on my foot, under the desk. What little familiars these furry critters become. They really are part of us. I am sorry for Biscuit but from all I have seen he has had an amazingly full life so far and I am sure his doggy dreams are amazing.

    I had a dog once who went through the same thing. It is so hard when you can do nothing but love them. <3

  17. Ohhh, the achey spot in the heart designed and dedicated to all-things-dog is extra ouchy today for you, my friend. I'm sorry to hear about your aging MacNugget.

    How bitter the stages of life are (all of them...Even the first sharp intake of air when we're born is harsh!), the way they creep up on us, usurping their predecessor and beginning their rein before we're ready and without permission. And yet, Mac takes it all as it comes, quietly and peacefully.

    What a beautiful afternoon you granted him. Sending many hugs through the airwaves to you.

  18. "If there are no dogs in heaven, then, when I die, I want to go where they went." Will Rogers.
    I couldn't write much more than that, the whole sentiment chokes me to tears. Beautiful post about your Life Friend, lovely photos as always. Yellow on yellow, and of course, apple blossoms. Empty stalls, digging through your childhood shoes. Ohhhh, the imagery. Life marches on.

  19. i'm choked up as i read this - all i can muster is to let you know i know what you're going through, and i'm sending virtual hugs.

  20. You're bringing tears to my eyes, woman! Big hugs to Maharajah Mac, and you too. At least the sweet pup is living out his golden years in the best place possible. Glad you got a chance to visit him. <3

  21. Awww, what a lovely dog and a lovely story!! ( and beautiful flowers!!)

  22. LOVE radio flyers. love biscuit. love dawlzy. love this post! love you!

  23. Much love to you & Biscuit. Bittersweet, this.

  24. Dogs- they make our hearts, they break our hearts. Rest in peace little Mac.

  25. Pets have the ability to reach the deepest part of our hearts. They are magical and irreplaceable companions. It's hard when they go. One of the hardest things one can face in life. I have lost several of my furry companions during the last two and a half years, and every time the pain it's the same. It breaks my heart in two. But Biscuit is one lucky dog as my furry babies were. I know you gave him the best life, and I know he will go in peace because of this, when his moment will come. And, I don't believe in death. The parting is hard, but I know they don't die, they just move someplace else. He'll go to another place, peacefully. Hugs Lilly.

  26. Oh, Lily..such a lovely story..I am sitting here as well with big tears and a smile with my little grand-puppy at my feet; (babysitting my daughter's Jack-beagle. The photos are gorgeous as touching. Keep up the great writing..I adore your blog as much as my block shop scarf!

  27. Any group is located in my can range f looking at regarding your fairly sweet Macintosh personal computer. There is nothing far more comforting than the usual furry friend. Your pictures regarding Mac thus swiftly catch his nature.

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  28. Wow! Wow! And Wow! It’s truly an honor. Thank you so much! I’m new to this and working hard to get out there. Professional Pet Sitter

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