12/18/2014 10:42 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

People and Other Animals: My Old Dog and the Rain

I know we're all grateful for it, but this last couple weeks of extraordinarily heavy rains has had its impact on my own dogs and cats, and from what I'm hearing I'm not alone in this. The three cats dive for cover when the downpour comes fast and loud (well, two dive for cover; my fat cat sort of waddles for cover) and they can disappear for hours. Barky Frida greets the rain bursts barkily, and if the rain hasn't woken the household then that combo certainly does. Except, at times, for my old man Archie.


Now in his Bark Mitzvah year, Archie's suddenly grown really old over the past few months. Stiff at times, sleeping more and more, gray where he once was black, he's also mostly deaf now. I don't mean just the "I can't hear you when you ask me to let you share the couch" deaf. I mean the sort of hearing loss evident even when the refrigerator door opens or the microwave yells that the popcorn is done.

Along with the sudden aging he has also quickly become sweeter and more trusting of new people and situations, perhaps now needing to trust in those around him in a new way, a big development from the protective of his family while distrusting of the world abused dog we adopted from Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA a dozen years ago.

The other night, a few hours past midnight, the skies exploded with rain. Two of the cats dove while the third shuffled off to safety, and Frida barked loud enough to wake the deaf if not the dead. Startled, sleepy, Archie and I found each other.

I pulled his head into my stomach and stroked his ears. He made a sound, more a purr than anything dog-like, a sound that said "safe." That said contentment. The rain loudly rumbled on....

We woke a few hours later, a jumble of legs, probably from the quiet. He licked my face, just once, and then wandered off to continue his sleep. I went over to my desk and wrote this.

The one thing our dogs and cats do poorly, they simply do not live long enough. I know it's coming, hopefully not yet for a few years. For now, how wonderful to have this time to nuzzle with our big old guy who was always, before, more than a bit nuzzle-resistant. I do know this: I have loved every stage of our life with Archie, and I'm not going to start missing him until that time comes.