This is Pete. Our 13 1/2 year old lovable lab. He likes to think he is in charge here at the Outpost. If he hears us coming his way, he will stealthily slip out of Charlie's chair just in the nick of time. As we come around the corner from the kitchen he has managed to curl up nonchalantly on the floor. Hearing us, he raises his head and looks at us with look that says, "What's up?" We will walk over to the chair and place a hand on the cushion. Hmmm...toasty warm. Nice try, Pete.
Pete has the uncanny sense to know when the pantry door has been left ajar. And he never lets us know that he knows. One evening, we went out for a quick bite to eat. Pete was asleep (or, so we thought). When we returned, we discovered the pantry door wide open and Pete nowhere to be found. I gave the pantry a quick look and everything seemed to be ok. From behind I heard Pete come into the kitchen and without missing a beat, he charged out the back door, headed for his water bucket. Instinct told me that something was up so we followed. From the back step, Pete kept glancing over to the patio. But, he didn't move. Odd, I thought. I looked over to see what he was looking at, thinking maybe there was a mouse or something. When I scanned the yard, I saw that there was something in the garden. There, in the mud, was a slightly torn up bag of marshmallows; wet and dirty. He has never been very good at hiding anything...hot dog buns, bread, you name it...we've always found it!
This morning, it was 4:10 a.m. and dark. I was pulled from dreamland at the sound of Pete's tags jingling merrily. I was deep in sleep, comfy in that perfect spot in the bed and cozy with just the right number of blankets to keep me warm and snug. Off somewhere in the distance was the jingle of the tags on his collar...but, in my dream, it was something else. Half asleep, I listened. Again, the tags jingled. I opened one eye to look at the clock. 4:15!? Really, Pete? There was an oh, so brief pause...enough to fool me into thinking I could drift back to sleep. Eyes are closed. Jingle! Ok. Now, I am awake and wondering what is up with that dog?!! Totally alert, I now hear the flapping of his ears AND the jingle. Ok. I get it. His ears are bugging him.
I reached for the flashlight and crawled out of bed. I sat on the floor next to Pete, turned on the flashlight and peeked into his ears. The left one seemed ok. I reached for the other and Pete immediately pushed toward my hand, indicating he wanted his ear rubbed. I looked inside and it was a bit pink, but trust me, I've seen worse! So I rubbed the ear a minute, trying to calm him down.
By this time, Charlie has come kosher (just before the alarm is to go off) and is wondering why I am sitting on the floor with Pete at 4:30 in the morning! After my explanation, he reluctantly agreed to clean Pete's ears before going to work. Unchecked, I knew Pete would be shaking his head all day...and I had visions of his eyes spinning like the teacups at Disneyland. A little ear wash was all it took. As I was leaving for work, I closed the front door and heard the jingle of the tags again...and then, the buh-dump-bump as Pete landed in Charlie's chair for his morning nap.
As the resident Court Jester, Pete continues to make us laugh and at the same time, pulls at our heartstrings. His back legs are tired. His breathing is challenged. He struggles with the stairs but refuses to give up. Where we are, he goes. Loving us unconditionally.