It made me smile to see the dog in the new “Toy Story 3” movie advance in age alongside Andy. It reminded me of my sweet little pug, Aggie, who is undoubtedly showing the signs of age on her smooshed face. No level of denial on my part with stop time from marching on.
White hairs outline the years of stress she’s experienced as a member of our busy family. She’s endured three bedridden pregnancies, helped raise three active girls, survived endless sleepovers, playdates and birthday parties. She’s had her ears tugged on (more than once), been barfed on (more than once), and has been dressed in head to toe doll clothes and toted around in a basket (more than once).
She doesn’t seem to notice that she’s slowing down a bit. She can’t run to keep up with the kids on their scooters anymore and her naps are more numerous and longer in length. She still races up and down the stairs with the kids when they play with her and she runs for her leash if you say the words, “Go” or “Walk.” She also gets into mischief in the same ways she did as a puppy (i.e. unrolling the toilet paper and shredding it into tiny pieces when she needs attention) and sneaking into the kids snacks and bingeing on a bag full of baby carrots when no one was looking. (She had a tummy ache for days and looked green – or maybe I should say “orange.”)
While she’s unaware of her own mortality I don’t think she’s aware of our children’s development either. Really, the tables have turned a lot over the years. When the kids were little, she was kind of a watch dog of sorts. If the girls woke up from their naps or were doing something sneaky she’d come get me and pace around to let me know that I was back on duty. (She’s sort of the Lassie of pugs.) She’d wipe their faces clean and clean up after them as they learned to navigate eating meals with a fork. She’d curl up with them at nap time or when they’re sick to offer them comfort.
These days she’s at their mercy. They fill up her bowls with food and water. They’re the ones holding her leash as they take her for walks in the neighborhood or let her out to do her business. They snuggle with her at night to offer her comfort because now she’s completely dependent on their co-sleeping arrangement. (They even trade weeks taking turns sleeping with her.) The girls have even taken to disciplining her and teaching her new tricks.
Although the tide has turned and the girls have become the Alpha Dog in the house, I don’t think Aggie has noticed. Any day of the week, any hour of the day, I can ask her, “Where are the babies?” and she’ll go run towards the girls. No matter how white her black coat turns, or who’s holding her leash, I believe she’ll always see herself as the overprotective mother hen of the house with her three little babies.