I was awakened this morning by the sound of Rosie snarling at Ginger as she came through the doggie door, returning from her early morning pee. And with that bit of canine snarl I found a sadness far more compelling than the act deserved.
As I lay there in bed I thought about Ginger, having always been the alpha dog in the many years of her youth, now being relegated to "Beta" by a six year old upstart. I'm sure Ginger doesn't mind it nearly as much as I do. Her sight and hearing are so diminished that few things bother her anymore, even a rude snarl from her younger sister. The morning dance of backyard quail, the caw of a blackbird, or even the furious scurrying of a front yard rabbit no longer raise the hackles of an aging old girl who once leaped three feet in the air in pursuit of a bothering Blue Jay.
Instead, my old girl wanders around in a fog. At night, when she rises from her day bed, for the short stroll to her night bed, her legs sometimes fail her, and even a four inch step, up or down, is a challenge to her spindly aging legs. Sometimes even navigating the few short steps through the kitchen is a challenge as she sways north and south, east and west, finding her way to her night bed from embedded memory.
I now must express my affection for the old girl through sensory touch; she can't hear my cooings of love, nor can she see my face alight with delight when I look on her face. Instead, I stroke her brow with one hand and massage her hind end with the other...sending her tail wagging in acknowledgement of my love...we now communicate solely from Ginger's last remaining connection to the world; her sense of touch.
So I lay there in bed this morning, mourning Ginger's loss of "alpha status"; no longer big mama, no longer the matriarch of her domain, relegated to an afterthought by her youthful sister, Rosie, who, in previous years, she could bat about and wrestle into submission whenever her rule was challenged.
I think the old girl is going to get a little something extra in her breakfast bowl this morning, perhaps an egg over her kibbles...in respect for the "grande dame" she was, and still is in my heart.