I wasn’t looking for a dog 11 years ago when Rascal came into my life. I was driving a truck at the time and usually gone from home. My sister-in-law decided to rescue Rascal from the pound, but instead of taking care him herself she sent him to us. When Paula’s parents came to visit, they came with a backyard fence and a dog to put in it.
At first Rascal was an outside dog. He was incredibly hyper and excited to be out of the pound. I’ve always felt sorry for dogs who get imprisoned in the yard, so when it got colder, we decided Rascal could come in so he wouldn’t freeze to death. He’s been inside ever since.
I didn’t pay him much mind at first, but dogs kind of grow on you. Rascal often got outside of the fence and ran around the neighborhood which was embarrassing. One day I had enough of his running off and body slammed him when he tried to take off. He pretty well started coming to me when I called after that.
Rascal was about the only running companion I had over the years. Sometimes he’d trip me and I’d come back with hands all banged up, but we got used to each other. Rascal like to lead for the first couple miles; but around mile three, he wasn’t so enthusiastic; mile four, he was lagging behind; and if there was to be a fifth mile it would have to be without Rascal.
I walk a lot too, and Rascal always wanted to come unlike anybody else. So we became really good friends over the years. We used to go on what I called cemetery walks. For some reason I really like cemeteries and some of the best cemeteries were not far from my house. Rascal loved the walks. Eventually, if we even drove by a cemetery, Rascal would get excited and start begging to get out. That was our hang out. For most of his life, that is what we did.
Rascal was getting older by the time we moved to Arkansas. I still took him running, but after two miles, he was exhausted. There were no decent cemeteries where we lived in Arkansas, but there were trails, and we both loved walking through the mountains on the trails.
Since we’ve moved again, Rascal has really been going down fast and I’m afraid I’m going to lose him soon. We took him to the vet for some test and he has arthritis pretty bad especially in his hind legs. This explains why he doesn’t even want to get up in the morning. With all the commotion around with our new living arrangements Rascal often looks at me with that look: “What happened to our peaceful home.” Yes after all these years together, I think I speak his lanquage.
Rascal and I have been hanging together the last couple of days, but he is getting so frail. We both love Peti Jean State Park, but he is struggling.
The two of us has seen some incredible landscape together. I live only about 20 miles from the most picturesque spots in the state. Even though I have been to this park many times, I have not taken the time to explore the whole park. I can’t believe all that I’ve been missing. Rascal wants to go where I go, but dogs are not mountain lions; they can’t climb the rocks well at all. He does try very hard to follow me. Here he is looking at where I’m going.
This is Rascal as he starts his descent.
After a day of exploring, Rascal could not must enough energy to hop up in the truck. Instead he found a nice shady spot in front of the truck and plopped down. This is his, “I just need a couple minutes,” look.
Aging is such a discouraging process. The better years are behind both of now and time is taking its toll. I can’t take him as much as I would like, but I’m so glad when he’s around. We’ve talked a lot over the years. He’s an old friend, and old friends can’t be replaced.