The Old Dog

The progression of time can be measured in a number of ways, some more meaningful than others. Yes, calendars are flipped, and appointments crossed out as they pass to be replaced by new ones. Digital timekeepers tick like a metronome ever further forward, unrelenting in pace, no matter the situation or surroundings. In reality, time is much more relative than the devices we have created to log it. It stopped and starts, rushes at us in moments of excitement, only to slow almost to a stop – in those moments of realisation or, conversely, boredom. Time is always changing, and not always in the same direction.

My life has moved forward a long way in the last ten years. Perhaps an obvious statement. But the realisation hit when I came home this Christmas to the continued adoration of my old dog. Dogs are the best keepers of time. Their lives perhaps cruelly fast compared to their owners. They can only ever guard you during a short period of your life.

Flynne arrived in my life ten years ago. The 14 year old Chris was excited to have a puppy. A ‘sheepdog’. A border collie from border collie parents, he was brought to the farm to work the sheep, to guard the chickens and ward off the foxes. I ruined that. I fought him and played with him, cuddled him, and threw sticks for him until he lay down and slept. He moved house with us, from our small house on the hillside down into the farm.

I returned home to a tired Flynne. He walked slowly and steadily down the path to the car, tail wagging, smiling at me as if he’d been awaiting my return for the last 12 months. Whether I’ve left for 5 minutes for a year, the greeting I get is the same. Pure love.

The farm has seen a new addition since I was last at home. A puppy. Brie; a wild 14 month old bundle of scraggly collie hair and an ear piercingly loud bark. Boundless energy that Flynne once possessed. She’s untamed and untaught. Whereas Flynne knows to sit in order to release the food from the master, she will stand unflinchingly and bark continuously – stealing attention until Flynne’s long term good behaviour is forgotten in the melee of controlling the new dog.

Although I have been aware of him getting older each time I reappear on the farm, his stiff stretches in the mornings, and his greying muzzle have made me realise there will be a time when I will come home and not be greeted with a life long companion.

Dogs are awesome.