There are lots of different ways to measure the passage of time.
You could go by years, but I have one of those big milestone birthdays coming up, and I’d prefer not to think about just how many birthdays there have been.
You could think about your kids and where they are in their lives — preschool, elementary, middle and high school. Mine are both off to college, so again, a lot of time has passed.
You could think about the places you’ve lived — we’re at 24 years in Kenai and counting. Or even the cars you’ve owned. I’ve been driving the same truck since 2010, which marked the end of the minivan phase of my life.
Over the summer, we said goodbye to one of our dogs, and lately, that’s gotten me to thinking about my life in terms of all the dogs that have been a part of it.
My wife and I are both dog people. In fact, she’s fond of saying that she likes dogs more than most people. And with both kids out of the house, our dogs have moved even closer to the center of our attention.
So, after about two or three weeks of thinking we might be a one-dog family for a while, we decided our lives weren’t quite hectic enough, and we needed a puppy. And with the new puppy has come a wave of nostalgia and memories.
Among the things I’m remembering is how much easier it was to kneel down to play (or to clean up a mistake) the last time we had a puppy, seven or eight years ago. I guess mobility is another way to measure the passage of time.
I’m remembering all of our previous dogs’ quirks, and laughing when the puppy does something that reminds me of one of them.
I’m also remembering all the joys that come with a puppy. Watching her chase her own tail is as good as anything on TV. And is there anything more comforting than having a puppy asleep in your lap while you’re sipping your morning coffee?
Even the trips outside in the middle of the night have provided opportunities for aurora watching that I wouldn’t have taken advantage of without a puppy in the house.
I’m also remembering what it means to “puppy-proof” the house, mostly because the puppy reminds me every time she gets into or starts chewing something she shouldn’t. I’m reminded that I need to hang up my jacket so she doesn’t turn my sleeve into a tug toy, and not to leave anything out at or near floor level, because grabbing a piece of laundry or a shoe and running around the house with it is one of her favorite activities.
Her favorite things to grab are the old Crocs I use as slippers (I’m forbidden to wear them out of the house). And she’s clever enough to know that when I go looking for the one she’s grabbed, she can circle back and swipe the other one.
Now that I’m thinking of it, the clothes we wear might also measure the passage of time. I’m at the point in my life where my style hasn’t really changed, but all the clothes and shoes with chew marks from the last time we had a puppy have been replaced. So I’ve got a new set of sweatshirts and shoes with gnawed on drawstrings and shoelaces.
However, those Crocs she likes so much have survived at least three other puppies. There have been a few nibbles taken out of them over the years, but I’m not sure they’re going to survive another round of puppy chewing.
If indeed my Crocs don’t make it, it will be another way to mark the passage of time, and another great reminder of all the joy and some of the frustration our dogs have brought to our lives over the years.
Will Morrow lives in Kenai. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.