Saturday, July 01, 2006

A Striking Resemblance

I have recently come to realize just how much my 12-year-old black lab Dylan reminds me of my deceased father. The similarities have always been there, but they have definitely become more pronounced as Dylan got older.

“Slow” doesn’t come close to describing the speed at which Dylan moves. It can take him 10 minutes just to walk the short distance from our back yard into the house. It’s not that he’s in pain – he is simply in no hurry. My father, who earned the name “Speed” when he was a child (because he was so slow), was the same way. He was never late to anything, but he moved slowly and always drove well under the speed limit.

Dylan doesn’t go for kibble or anything that requires much chewing any longer, preferring instead that soft squishy canned food. I suspect he might have dental issues, although the vet finds no apparent problems. My father’s teeth were always bad. They fell out over the years, rendering him toothless in his early 80s. He never wanted dentures, preferring instead to gum his food. He would probably have done well with food the consistency of canned dog food.

Then there’s the matter of smell. Dylan has that musty old dog odor, but it seems like he has always smelled that way. I have come to realize that every dog has a unique smell, as our other dog Jake has a completely different smell. My father too had his own smell. Some mixture of pipe smoke and excessive coffee would best describe it. Because he didn’t believe in over-bathing, there was also the faint hint of BO. But the pipe smell predominated.

Dylan is a non-social dog most of the time. When we first saw him, he was the puppy in the corner chewing on the plastic lamb chop, while all of his litter-mates formed doggy pyramids in the welping pen. His only deviation from this loner behavior is his penchant to hump young dogs of any sex at the dog park, something that has gotten us kicked out more than once. My father never preyed on young girls, but he did stick to himself. He undoubtedly spent many more hours dreaming up inventions in his work room than he spent hanging out with other people, family included.

Dylan has recently developed this habit of just standing near me staring out into space. I feel him asking me just to talk to him. I have guilt pangs that I never talked to my father or listened to him enough in his last years, staying so busy with my young family.

I know that dogs don’t live forever and that a 12-year-old lab is already an anomaly. I’m trying to prepare myself for Dylan’s departure, hoping it will be swift and painless when it occurs. My father actually died just a month after being diagnosed with lung cancer. I’m sure he suffered, but not for long at least.

Dylan and my father – what a weird pairing, but how very alike. Two of the favorite entities of my entire life.


Blogger Mother of Invention said...

How interesting and touching that you should notice this after so much time. Maybe their spirits were connected and that particular lab puppy chose you as his owners with purpose. One never knows in this world!

4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is so tender and sweet. Your dad was an amazing man. I was always in awe of him. FL

1:31 PM  

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