There’s nothing like looking into the eyes of an old dog. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a dog person and will look into the eyes of any canine, but the eyes of an old dog are different than the eyes of a puppy.
Puppy eyes are frenetic and fun, but old dogs eyes are focused are wise. They are knowing and comforting. They are a warm sweater on a cold night – a cognac in front of a fire. Puppy eyes are a T-shirt and a margarita. There’s a place for both, but it takes decades to make cognac.
It could be that I’m not exactly young myself and can see in the old dog’s eyes the reflection of what I feel and know. Old dogs are quiet, reserved, and circumspect. They’ve been around the block a few times and have the physical and emotional scars to prove it. So do I.
Old dogs know what works and doesn’t work in life. A lifetime of trials and errors has honed their soft gaze to be one of understanding, compassion and empathy. When I look into an old dog’s eyes I feel a bond. A bond of understanding that youth is fleeting, and always, as the saying goes, wasted on the young.
But at the same time, a puppy can never fully appreciate chasing a squirrel in the same way an old dog savors the pursuit. For a young dog, the squirrel is merely a brief distraction. For the old dog, the squirrel is a challenge, a threat, and the foil that keeps her in the game. Without the squirrel to chase, the old dog would wither. Maybe the same is true for the human that retires too early in life.
It’s good to be an old dog. I just wish they had more time to chase the squirrels now that they know how important it is. But then, I wish I had more time to chase my own squirrels too.
C’est la vie.