Yesterday, as I was talking to a utility lineman outside the house, Scout, a big-chested malamute-like dog that lives next door, came padding up to check out the scene.
Scout is old now -- 14 sticks in my head -- and her steps are deliberate and slow. Her body tells a history of power, but now she is quite deaf and her movements betoken a new reality.
When I reached down and offered her my hand to see and sniff, and then reached further to stroke her chest, her head moved back reflexively, as if I might hurt her. But once my hand was on her chest, she knew the touch and relaxed and accepted in my affection.
As I stroked and crooned words she could not hear, I could see her left rear leg quivering at the hip. She was not cold or frightened ... she was simply old. Her big paws were planted as powerfully as ever on the earth, making the efforts they knew how to make, but the willingness to make those efforts was waning.
She walked because she walked.
She received affection because she received affection.
She moved on because she moved on.
It was enough.
It was all.
There was no "because."
And I loved her.