Leo, our beloved big, beautiful boy, is 14 today. The life expectancy of a Labrador is 12 and that number, of course, is an average. Really long-lived outliers, dogs punching above their years-class, are mostly anecdotal. Jody, recently returned after a long sojourn in L.A., tells me that one of her elegant Belgian shepherds lived to be 16. A guy on the street, stopping to admire Leo, knew a guy whose chocolate Lab lived to be 17. More anecdotes, please.
I suppose Leo is slower, but last week I had to move to keep up with him as he ran down Greenwich Street, a dog on a mission, only stopping, to sniff, when we reached a green garbage can (peemail message board) at the corner of Harrison.
His rear legs look less powerful, have less strength for pushing up from slippery floors but he ignores the carpet remnants scattered around, meant to aid his traction. (Ryder sleeps on them.) Yet he’s fine on solid ground, runs in wide exuberant circles in what little snow there is in Stone Ridge. And he’s still eager to soak in the Esopus and the Groverkill, both strangely unfrozen much of this winter. And his appetite is perfect.
Since Leo turned 12 I’ve been starring in my own remake of a scene from “Terms of Endearment.” I’m the Shirley MacLaine character, repeatedly waking up my aging dog (rather than the infant Deborah Winger), to determine if he’s still breathing, so that I can breathe easy. Roused from deep sleep, Leo looks at me, quizzically, “Whaaaat?”
Happy birthday, dear Schmoo, and (indulge my magical thinking) many more. Fifteen’s not unreasonable: x 7=105. Manuel de Oliveira lived longer, nearly 107, and George Abbott made it to 107½. (Maybe Leo should make films or write, direct and produce plays.)
And happy birthday, to my dear friend Camille, in warm and dry California.