The Eyes

by Tom Swift

We had a rough patch because of a sore spot.

Something got lodged in my little buddy’s back right paw. Must have walked over something. Or scraped something. Anyway, it didn’t look right. Or at all comfortable.

I have been learning about stoicism from books and talks and lectures of late. But, of course, I live every day with a master stoic.

Ninety minutes before I noticed the paw problem we had gone for a 45-minute walk.

He had just been on squirrel patrol.

No hobbles. No wobbles. No limps. Or gimps. No whining. Or whimpers.

What he did was scratch. And lick. He licked and then he licked some more. Like dogs do.

The cone was used, more then he and I (especially he) would like, there for a spell. Cone wearing does not for a happy house make. I don’t think that can be found as a framed sign like the kind people put on their kitchen walls and I know it’s not a bumper sticker. Still, it’s true.

Then we saw the vet. Got that paw cleaned right up. Got some pills for the infection that had been brewing. Ahhh.

Almost immediately, he was a new dog.

We ran in the park. And later around the block.

Even more for me, I have found, is the change in his eyes. Last night we sipped up some last dribbles of evening air. He found one of his favorite spots on the grass. I was in my chair. We sat there with nothing else to do but breathe.

I loved the way he looked up at me just then.

We imbue companion animals with human traits and emotions that aren’t always fair and often are not accurate. The depth of their inner lives is not the same as the terrain of those of us who use words. You know you don’t know. Yet you do know the energy that passes between you. Especially when you look at him and he looks long at you. Love is maybe best not parsed but experienced.

Some of those experiences are contained in specific moments you know you will carry forever. Mental snapshots form — those of the sort that are more vivid than could be captured with a camera. You don’t have reach for a tool. It happens automatically that a new image is taken and stored in the permanent drive only you have access to. It was in the 8 o’clock hour with the last light of day. Slight breeze. Cool but comfortable air. Green grass. His torso twisted slightly up and toward me.