Thursday, February 18, 2016

once you pass its borders

For a guy who proclaims his antipathy toward sentimentality, I certainly write a lot of sentimental mush. Today will be no exception.

Last year had two days left when I related a tale about Barco's new-found best friend (people, let me tell you 'bout my best friend) -- a pug puppy in the next block who goes by the name Lucky. Even though Lucky was eight months old and Barco was just over three months, they were about equally matched in size and weight, even though Lucky had the wisdom and moves of an older brother.

Things have changed. There is still five months difference in their age. And they are the best of buddies. But Barco's hormones have long ago pushed him past Lucky in size and weight. At his last weigh-in, Barco came in at just under 19 kilograms. He is turning into a big boy.

The size disparity does not bother Lucky. They chase each other and indulge in the type of dog wrestling that causes some squeamish observers, like Gweneth Paltrow's Marge in The Talented Mr. Ripley, to believe that one or the other is getting hurt: "Tell me, why is it when men play they always play at killing each other?"

But hurts can happen. Barco sprained a rear leg after being hit broadside by a large pit bull, the affectionate Estrella, during some heavy rough-housing. Dogs are resilient. Even though Lucky's owners now try to keep him from playing with Barco.

Being a dog, Lucky ignores the rules. He snuck over here yesterday morning for a bit of forbidden wrestling. Trying to separate best friends is a fool's mission.

One aspect of Barco's personality that amazes me is how quickly he has befriended the dogs on our street. When we go for a walk to the sports park, which I have now re-christened the dog park, we are joined by a pack of two to nine dogs. He is the veritable pied piper of Barra.

As I stood watching Barco and Lucky play, a tune kept running in the back of my head. It was "Toyland," that most mawkish of songs that relies on bathos to describe the journey out of childhood.

But there it was:

Childhood's joy land
Mystic merry toyland
Once you pass its borders
You can ne'er return again
It was a good reminder, though. Every time I get irritated with Barco with his continual desire for attention by repeatedly biting me each morning and evening, his taste for chewing up my $400 sunglasses or my favorite hat or the television remote or even the lens cap while it is still attached to my camera, or being stone deaf when I call him away from his trips down the street to visit his goat friends, I need to remember that each of those moments will never be repeated. I will enjoy him as a puppy while he is a puppy.

This morning, I ran into Barco's breeder.  He was walking Barco's mother and four of his siblings. I have no idea if the five of them remembered Barco as a litter mate, but they, at least, had a great reunion of gulden retrievers.

Barco and I joined them at a vacant lot where the six of them (plus two dogs who had joined us in our neighborhood) ran and wrestled. He was in dog heaven.

One day, I will have a full-grown, well-behaved adult golden retriever. For now, though, I am going to enjoy the memory machine that he is.

Before he crosses that border.


And if this serving of sentimentality is not enough for you, here is the queen of sentiment, Doris Day, to give you a saccharine send-off:

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