Those walks were the ones I will always remember. When you were so young. Every walk an expedition, using every sense to explore the strange world you had found yourself in the day your eyes opened. Probing into every clump of grass, and marveling at what you found there. Every sound a novelty, that caused you to stop, frozen in place, eyes wide with wonder, and listen…listen… until in my silly human impatience I would wake you from your trance with a soft “c’mon Brèe.” The walks I spent being with you, just being with you, the kind we so often have now, and had then not often enough.
The thing I regret most is that rushed feeling I used to have. Told by many that you should be this by now, should be that by now. The fear that I was failing you, and the rush to train you up into a “perfect” dog. My frustration when you couldn’t be that, thinking it was my fault. If I could change anything, I would go back and spend less time training you, Less time worrying, doubting, listening to the wrong people, and more time being with you, watching you grow, watching you be a puppy. It seemed like such a long time, such a hard time, but really, it was all too fleeting. I know this now.
It used to make me laugh every time, the way you would stop, look up at the sky, and your hair would stand on end. Your puppyish “wooWOO!” would shatter the quiet as you leapt and barked at contrails. You have always barked at things you do not understand. The airplanes themselves, you seemed to comprehend, but the silent contrails they left hanging in the sky were an enigma to you, and you challenged them. “WoowooWOO, what are you? I don’t think you belong up there! What are you, what are you?” I would laugh and hold on tightly to the leash. “What are you even doing looking up there, you weirdo?” The seriousness on your young face, and the absurdity of reacting so vehemently to contrails, was comical. I would sit down and put my arm around you. “Hey, hey, calm down, you goose.” I would offer you a treat, and you would take it grudgingly, and glare up at the sky, grumbling, as I persuaded you to move on. What I wouldn’t have given to see them from your perspective, and know what is was about them that offended you so. Perhaps you realized that not only the earth, but the sky was inhabited, and it shocked you. Perhaps you were furious at the thought that in your solemn duty of keeping watch for suspicious happenings, you would have to look upwards now as well. Probably, you were just a silly puppy barking because you did not understand. I will always carry with me the memory of my puppy barking at contrails, smile and shake my head when it resurfaces. I will always wonder what those things I saw as streams of cloudy white looked like to you.