Auld Dug

Huck the dog is getting old.

Thirteen and a bit.

 It's hard to believe that I got him when I was in my twenties. He was 7 months old.

My girlfriend and I were living in Regensburg in Germany. Huck was born in nearby Bad Abbach to a Great Dane and a collie/Bernese mountain Dog mix (I think). We liked to think he was a Catahoola Leopard Dog. There really is such a breed. He's got that Great Dane brindled marking.

He looks tall until you see him beside a dog of Alsation proportions.

I think he inherited many Great Dane characteristics. He seldom barks. He is great with kids. He is great with other dogs and he is intelligent and a bit of an independant thinker. I don't know if all those characteristics are Great Danish but they are good qualities.

"Huck der Forsichtlich", said a Bavarian. "Huck the Careful".

For sure though, he is a handsome dog. People were forever stopping me on the street to ask about him. Kids always wanted to pet him. It was uncanny. On witnessing Huck, unphased, being mobbed by an adoring school trip of pawing kids, my mother said, "What manner of beast is that?"

Huk's done a fair bit of travelling in his time. He was with us up in Sweden. He was at the Norwegian border where we got turned back for lack of international dog related paperwork. He was down in Austria peeing in the royal gardens. He had a petite amie/ little girlfriend in France. He ran around the dunes in Denmark where the Baltic and the North sea merge. He went to a festival in Hungary, had a car accident in Slovania while we were down in the Karst Caves and he fell in a huge vat of manure up to his neck in the Italian Alps near Lago de Ledro. We spent a night stalking rabbits in Frankfurt airport, then we flew to the states where he has been across country a few times and up and down to Canada. That's a lot of miles for a dog.

The last adventure we had together before coming to the States, was a trip down the Danube. I was on an old clunker bicycle and he loped along beside me. We were on the route for 6 weeks but only covered 136kms. We did all the travel in the first week then camped on a little island near Donauworth and just settled down to wait for the winter weather to get better. We got too comfy and cycled no more. Eventually I tossed the bike in the bushes and we went off to America.

That was back in 1997.

 So now Huck takes it easy. He has all those little niggling aches and pains that dogs accumulate over time. His back legs get up a minute after his front legs, and he's stone deaf. He's on medications too just like the American human population. But I think he is happy. His eyes appear a little cloudy but sometimes I still see that cheeky look on his face.

A few days ago we went hiking in the Cascade Mountains. We hiked a trail to Cut Throat lake. A 4 mile round trip. Huck took it easy and plodded along. He was dead beat at the end. Dog tired. But he made it.

Life is about the simple things now. Good food, a warm safe place and trusted friends. I envy Huck, his ignorance of growing old and dying. for him it's uncomplex. No worry, no doctors, no one to inform him constantly of his waning strength or to discuss medical operations in gory detail. It's all about the present moment. No estate or wills to sort out. No debt to pay or pass on.

 Nope. Today is the best day of your life.

Right now, we are off for a walk in the woods.