When I got him, he was no older than 6 weeks old, properly weaned off his mother’s milk and eating some sort of dog food only available in Missouri. He took a flight, in a tiny blue crate with holes, every which way, to make him feel like it wasn’t a prison.
When he got to L.A., I introduced myself by opening the crate and extending my hand. He sniffed it cautiously, first, and then bolted out of the crate and into my arms. We’ve been best friends ever since.
On mornings, I’d grab his leash and open the back door. He would rush out the door and all I would see was a white blur, speckled with a little bit of black and brown. He’d stop before the steps and look back at me, jumping and prancing around in a slight circle, to make sure I was still following, anxious to get started on the walk. I’d attach his leash to his collar and we’d walk for an hour. Mostly, he’d drag me along at his frenetic, Jack Russell terrier pace, and me, I’d be out of breath, trying my best to keep up. We walked at his pace, a slight run, like he had everywhere to go and not enough time to get there.
The years haven’t been kind to my best friend. He’s all but lost his energy. He spends most of the day sleeping, and hobbling around the house. He has lost his zing. In its place are arthritic hind legs and a slight wobble when he walks.
This morning we’ll go for a walk. He no longer bolts out of the door at the speed of sight, but gingerly makes his way out. He stops at the stairs, still, but not to see if I’m following, he stops because he needs my help to get down those steps. I carry him to the bottom and attach his leash. We walk for half an hour, slow and steady, like he has no particular place to go and all the time in the world to get there. We walk at his pace. Always at his pace.