Deep conversations with my buddy Bob
“It’s good to be alive, huh Bob?” were the words I said, and I truly meant them.
Bob didn’t respond. He was too busy licking balls of snow that had accumulated over the hair on his legs. Bob is a dog.
The two of us had just returned from a cross-country ski tour at sunset. I can’t speak for Robby, but I needed that tour. It had been one of those frustrating days. A day full of tedious phone calls, wasted meetings, a day when everything took about twice as much time as it was supposed to take. While I was going through all that, Bob was stuck at home doing whatever it is that he does when no one is watching him ” my guess would be downloading canine porn.
When I burst through the door a little after 4, he has was there wagging his tail and giving me that look which suggests, “Where the heck have you been? I have to pee.” I got down on my hands and knees rolled around on the floor with him, and apologized. I then told him of my frustrations and asked if he would care to join me on a tour through the woods. The sun was about to set, I grabbed my headlamp and skis and headed out.
Once we hit the trailhead, Bob didn’t do his usual of lingering behind checking out his pee-mail, but instead charged ahead. Both of us were moving like a man and animal half our ages. My frustration of being stuck in meetings and his of being left alone melted away as we slid effortlessly through the woods. We stopped to off-load some liquids and watched the sun set behind the western peaks. I said to my furry pal:
“Tell me this isn’t beautiful and I’ll call you a liar before having you put to sleep.”
I was only kidding, but Bob, not wanting to take the chance, said nothing.
The last few miles were skied mostly in the dark. I put the lamp on my head but did not turn it on until we reached my truck. I let the motor idle, drank some leftover cold coffee, and Bob enjoyed a Milk Bone. While I drove back down that snowy road, the little guy put his paws on either side of the heat vents and let the snow drip off.
“It’s good to be alive, huh Bob?”
I think the love of life and fear of death is more a human sentiment. Dogs can be happy, sad, hungry, horny, angry and a host of other emotions, but I don’t think they can appreciate the sense of the unknown. When I say “it’s great to be alive,” of course I’m comparing it to the alternative. It is all about the contrast.
Just as a frustrating day makes you appreciate a ski tour squeezed in at sunset, even the worst day alive is better than the best day of death. Or is it?
Of course that is the most asked question and debated concept that has ever faced the human species ” is there an after-life, heaven, nirvana, and if so, do they have skiing? It seems as I get older I’m more aware of life’s finality, which allows me to appreciate the interim between skiing and compost. Bob couldn’t care less; he lives for Milk Bones and immediate gratification.
There is an old country-western song that asks, “How can I miss you if you won’t go away.” Life’s contrasts are what make living all that more special. I wonder if I’d love skiing, my wife, life and Crown Royal as much, if I knew I could enjoy them forever? Death makes life all that more precious.
I tried to make all those points to my dog as we drove though the dark toward home; he didn’t seem to get it. In truth, he isn’t the same dog since he was neutered, but then again, neither am I.
Much like NASCAR fans and Paris Hilton, dogs aren’t overburdened with the curse of metaphysical queries and spiritual angst. But then again, they aren’t capable of appreciating the joy of doing something they love as if it were the last time. Though I do feel sorry for man’s best friend, I would like to think that having no insecurities or need of toilet paper makes up for their lack of emotional depth.
“It’s good to be alive, huh Bob?” I tried once again, with the same results.
We pulled into the driveway at close to 7:30. My mate came out of our home carrying the phone. “I’ve been calling around all over town looking for you. It has been dark for an hour, I thought you hit a tree and were dead.”
Bob jumped out of the truck and ran toward the house and his supper. I gave my wife a hug and said, “Sorry to worry you, I’m not dead and I’m pretty happy about that.”
Jeffrey Bergeron under the alias of Biff America can be seen on RSN, heard on KOA radio, and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at email@example.com. Biff’s book, “Steep, Deep and Dyslexi,” is available from local book stores or at Backcountrymagazine.com.
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