Old Dog

 

I glance out the window to see a man dressed in a smart pair of jeans, a shirt that has been ironed this week more than my best shirt has this financial year and a jacket someone named Arnold would approve of on a Sunday.

The man is walking a dog. Or at least attempting to. The dog displays a lack of speed that suggests an extremely advanced age.

This is most certainly an old dog.

It is not much bigger than a cat, but much smaller than a cow. About the size of a small dog. Perhaps slightly larger.

The man has the dog on what must be the longest commercially available lead, allowing him to walk casually on ahead until the line becomes taut, signalling him to retrace his steps and check the elderly canine had not passed away in the previous seventeen seconds.

It is the man's visible emotions that interest me. Captivate me.

He is frustrated by this dog. There is no doubt about that. He is frustrated that he must constantly wait for him. By the fact that a one hour walk will not see them to the end of the street. That the dog does not seem to realise or mind that his owner has taken time out of his impressive shirt wearing day to go through this charade of exercise.

But that is not the overriding emotion. He loves this dog. And he has loved it for some time.

This is what stops him from pulling too tight on the leash in an attempt to hurry his best friend up. He lets the dog move at its own pace. Sure, that pace is going to make the man late for an appointment, or prevent him from meeting the love of his life at the next corner or even delay him so much that the tumble dryer he left running at home will dangerously singe his cotton socks, but this man doesn't mind.

There will be other socks but there will not be other dogs.

The old dog begins moving again. It turns around, agonisingly slowly, and casually takes a step back the way it has come.

Minutes later it follows suit with a different leg.

This is not the path the man wants to travel. He clearly wishes to head in a south westerly direction. The dog however, is adamant on traversing a north easterly course. The man sighs, accepts his fate and trails his faithful hound on an undesired route.

Moments later he is in front of the dog.

The dog is yet to move all four legs.

Still the man doesn't mind.

He doesn't grab his phone and mindlessly scroll through streams of nothingness just to have something else to occupy his mind.

Instead, the man just waits, staring at the dog. Presumably remembering all of the great times they have had together.

Times when continuous movement wasn't a crazy dream and the paper was able to be fetched and brought indoors before the news within it was out-dated and the pages yellowed.

The dog’s back-left leg shifts from its original location. Technically the dog has not moved; it has simply repositioned its limbs.

The road home seems longer than ever. I don’t know where home is for this slow-moving duo, but I know that even if it is the next street over, this man will not be home within the hour.

Still the man does not show more than a hint of his impatience.

In fact, he looks lovingly at his loyal steed. To refer to the dog as a steed is not to imply the man would ride ever upon the its back, because even if we assumed the dog could hold his master’s weight this would only slow him down even more, lengthening an already lengthy journey.

The dog still does not move. The man accepts this and lowers himself down to sit beside his friend on the footpath. He doesn’t care that people are going about their speedy lives around him or that he is sitting on a dirty footpath in jeans that would cost more than my bank account currently held, he is just happy to rest with an old buddy.

Suddenly there is a sharp exclamation of pain. A grab of the lower back, a pained expression. The man has injured himself and is rendered unable to move.

Still he does not complain, he just turns to look at the dog beside him and smiles. Now we both can’t move, how apt, he is surely thinking.

Just then the dog takes a step on its chosen course of north easterly.

This is followed by another step. And another. It is almost a dangerous speed now given what I have seen of this dog so far. It has moved a metre in the space of two paragraphs. Very impressive.

It keeps moving.

Still grasping the leash, the man tries to get up but his damaged spine prevents him from following the rapidly moving blur.

Two metres now. The dog is flying.

Before long the leash is almost tight. Still the man holds on.

The dog gets to five metres away and cannot move any further. The taut leash is holding him in place. He stops and looks back to his loyal master.

The old dog barks impatiently.