Saturday, August 30, 2008

Blue Bear

I'm fascinated by Blue Bear, our elderly Blue Heeler. He's got a reputation as a fighter, a biter, a tough customer: a long time caregiver has told me stories about Bluey attacking caregivers when he wasn't the first one in his run to be fed, and he's not afraid to use his teeth at any time to make a point. He lost a front leg to fighting, his face is roughed up and an ear is split. He was, in his younger days, notorious for starting fights with other dogs through fences. And yet he makes all the caregivers smile - I passed one on the trails the other day and she grinned at him - "Ah, the old warrior."

They say Bluey's mellowed in his old age - he has discovered the pleasures of affection. When I enter his run he rushes to greet me and usually presses himself against me, trying to get some petting. If I'm lucky and he's feeling particularly social that day, he might even flip over to get a tummy rub - the ultimate compliment from a dog whose trust is not easily granted. If he's feeling grumpy that day or if he thinks I've slighted or ignored him, he might mount an attack on my shoes instead. You never can tell.

At 13 years old Bluey doesn't get around so well any more. Even short walks tire him easily with his 3-legged gait and he has a tendency to topple over sometimes, so we take him on cart rides to get him out and about to enjoy a change of scenery and a little wind in his face. I'll gently lift him up onto the seat of the golf cart beside me and we'll spend a while tooling around the property so he can see and be seen, grinning into the oncoming wind.

He's a well-loved character around here. Bluey's spent his entire life grabbing every passing day in his teeth and shaking everything he can out of it. He commands a respect from people and dogs - he lives peaceably with 2 others, and he makes the rules in the run, infirm tripod though he may be. Usually a short, quiet growl is enough to settle any disagreement among them. His body may be crumbling, but his spirit and his pride stand strong. The Old Warrior seems to have finally found contentment.


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