Blackie, the Other Dog

My old dog woke me this morning when I was having a terrible dream. I must make noises when I’m having nightmares because she always wakes me from them. She gets up on her arthritic legs and stumbles over to the side of my bed where she bumps my mattress with her nose until I wake up. I’m always so grateful when she does this. Her presence as she stands guard by me makes me feel better immediately.

There was a time when she shared my bed. She would jump up on it and settling herself at the foot of the bed, lie down for her night’s slumber. Now she cannot jump up on it, and the few times I’ve picked her up and put her on it, I worried when she’d jump down that it was too much on her old bones. I tried to be sure to always lift her down, but even at her age, sometimes she’s still too quick for me to do what I’d planned to do.

She’s fourteen years old. I’ve had her since the day she was born, for I also enjoyed the presence of her mother for many years.

Her name is Blackie. She’s an almost solid black dog with a crescent moon on her chest. My youngest son suggested the name “Moon” for her and I always wished I’d chosen that name instead, but I’ve called her Blackie all her life and she answers to that. For a couple years I also called her “the other dog”. That was when I lived in a mostly black neighborhood in Wilmington NC. I loved the house and the lane it was perched in. We finished fencing in the backyard, although we were just renters. Shortly after we moved in, I was standing in the backyard and was ready to go in the house. As I yelled, “Blackie, Blackie!” a couple times to get her to come on in with me, I noticed a couple of my neighbors passing by. They were looking at me and neither had a smile on his face. I remembered how that word was sometimes considered a racial slur, so for the next couple years, she learned to respond to “the other dog”, as in “Magic come here! (her mother was named Magic) And bring the other dog with you!” Blackie happily accepted her new name and responded well to it over those years.

I’m up earlier than I need to be. I am still working, but hoping to retire, or semi-retire in June. I do appreciate Blackie hobbling to my side at 4:00 am to wake me and let me know the things flashing through my mind were dreams, not real, and she was there and it was all right.

I tell her she’s the best dog in the world and she believes me because she knows it’s true.

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