For She Is Old

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She is beside me as I walk our woodland path. Climbing the stile, I hear the burble of running water, where she leaves me for a moment to drink her fill.

I then wait for that familiar sound, pausing to watch her lap in the clear eddy of the slow flowing stream. Shaking her head, she then returns to my side, and I catch sight of her brindle coat glistening wet in the morning sun. Shining like new, her gentle brown eyes gaze up at me, filled with questions that I cannot answer.

Today, she is alive, like a puppy lost in wonder. But I know that the short years of her youth have drifted past in the briefest of dreams…

… for she is old.

Grey whiskers and a steady lope, where once was a frisky pup, running, jumping, chasing shadows that were perhaps just ghosts. She pauses to allow the sun to stroke her, smooth her, caress her with its warmth and make her well again. But she is weary and I know…

… that she is old.

But no, she has forgotten her years as a distant sound attracts her and she runs deep into the trees, stops, looks back at me and waits; slowly returning with a gentle sigh of resignation. Breathless now, she walks slowly by my side, planting her feet heavily into the dark brown earth. She is tired and I know…

… that she is old.

I remember these things as I walk alone; still seeing her, hearing her and feeling her close by my side. In the shadow of the ancient oak tree she waits for me, ready to pounce as I approach, ready for the chase, ready for the game of life. Too often I can no longer bear the pain and my eyes fill and overflow as I curse my weakness. But I loved her so. I loved her so. I loved her so.

… and always will.

Her spirit is here somewhere… amongst the fallen leaves, deep in the tall grass through which she ran. Maybe around the next bend… Perhaps she watches me as I walk in her fields, touch her trees and listen to the burbling of her clear, cooling stream.

Perhaps that shadow darting through the bushes is her returning from another unsuccessful squirrel hunt.

Perhaps… Perhaps my eyes are not filled with tears as I stare back at the empty path and wait for a friend who will never come and try to accept that she is gone… forever.

And, as I wait, listen and watch.  I then realise…

… that I too am old.

For a Boxer dog named Kelly.

This is a guest post by Keith Cory-Jones. Want to write for us? Visit www.dogstodaymagazine.co.uk/essay-submission or email editorial@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk.

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