The Bows are nine years old now. We know, give or take a few days, Bowdu’s birthday — January 20th, 2005. Since we don’t know for Bowpi, I’ve assigned Dec. 31st, 2004 on most of her paperwork (knowing that Basenjis are usually born in winter).
I’d like to think the Bows are aging well. Both are clearly slowing down in some ways. Bowdu sometimes wants a little help jumping up into the car, and he’s more likely to flop down and rest on the ride home, rather than sit upright to watch out the window. Perhaps it’s just that he feels the familiar routes no longer require his vigilance. I sometimes notice him snoozing in the front passenger seat, eyes closed within minutes of driving away from the park. As I stir him back to alertness with a pat on the head, I recall how his inexhaustible energy had frustrated me in those already-too-busy transitional days, when we first moved here. Which is not to say that Bowdu has matured into an easy keeper. He is still a tricky dog to manage, but he’s certainly easier than he ever was, and that’s not something I’ll ever take for granted.
It’s harder to tell how Bowpi has aged, since she has always spent so much time sleeping, even when she arrived as a five-year-old. Slivers of white fur speckle both dogs’ crowns and cheeks. I pretend I don’t notice hers, since Bowpi prefers to keep her face turned away from the camera, or buried under her paws or tucked beneath blankets as she sleeps. Which she does a lot of, perhaps 16 hours a day. In the daytime, during peak sunshine hours, she’s eager to hang out in the backyard. She also gets jazzed for mealtimes and our daily park time.
Hiking is the primary way by which I measure and maintain the dogs’ health on a day to day basis. I take them places where they’re allowed to roam off leash nearly every day. It’s one of the true luxuries of living on a grad student schedule in the California Bay Area. We have ready access to many scenic trails, both strenuous and moderate. I believe that a little bit every day does them — and me — a world of good.
Even if sometimes things get a little messy. That’s part of the package.
The best part is getting to witness their spontaneous bursts of energy. Both Bows still get revved up for their respective Shiba/Basenji 500s.
I like fast dogs. I take great pleasure in watching them run. But at the end of the day, it’s more important to me that they run back, and stay close. As the Bows grow older, their companionship creates more ambiance, less noise. That, to me, is the natural order of things.