Flavio doesn’t run off, doesn’t have
accidents unless he’s sick, destroys nothing but his food, and can be left in
the house for hours without concern.  He’s patient and kind with kids, and
will let anyone pet him. The other day he had about two hundred people love on
him at a local café, including giants, baby talkers, drug addicts, homeless people,
caffeine-charged students, and even toddlers.  He is as easygoing as a dog
can be. 

As we get older, we develop habits.
I incessantly crack my right big toe, watch too much Family Guy, snore, clear my throat like an old
lion.  I make wine and garden like my grandfather did.  I obsess on
shooting par.  I complain that kids (and dogs) these days have no
discipline, yada yada yada.  I’m a curmudgeon- a mostly affable
curmudgeon, I hope.

That’s what happens to old
dogs.  They get easy, and… odd.  They grunt and groan, they
snore.  They treat the food bowl like it’s a font of godly
knowledge.  They stare out the window, or at you.  They carefully
plan the ascent of steps instead of leaping up them.  They dream more,
about squirrels, or the beady eyes of raccoons in the back yard. 

Flavio licks the carpeting in the
family room, incessantly.  I think he likes the feel of it on his
tongue.  He has "backward sneeze" jags every other week.  He goes
through bouts of chewing on his butt, for absolutely no reason- no fleas, no
dermatitis, no dirt- he simply likes it, the same way my 87 year-old dad likes
to rub the crown of his head over and over while he thinks too much about the
Yankees or the mega millions lottery. 

Flavio licks his chops at night,
over and over.  He labors over when to lie down and when to get up,
because at his age, it’s no easy deal to get that lanky bulk up or down. 
He has taken to lying right in front of the door to the family room, even
though he knows someone is bound to open it up right into his face at any
moment.  He had begun to savor holding a rubber ball gently in his mouth,
like a guppy holding its young. 

He sighs more.  He
reflects.  I’m not sure why I believe it, but I suspect he thinks about
Lou a bit more these days.  I can feel it. 

It’s peaceful, and stately. 
It’s the calm before the storm, I know, but right now, I’ll savor his
deliberateness, his bearing, his eccentricities.  It comforts me, and
helps evoke dogs long gone, especially Lou, my Lou. 

One day, perhaps, Flavio’s little
brother Rico will become an elder statesman too, learn introspection and
restraint, become a model for some young upstart.  When hell freezes over,
no doubt.  But today, I’ll enjoy Flavio, and I’ll make sure he knows I do.