Seniors: A Reversal of Roles

Sep 10th, 2010 | By | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Perhaps when you were a young parent you found yourself reading to your children at night or telling them stories to beguile them at least toward sleepy time.  It was, as I recall, a special treat, even if only occasionally done.  When the eyes got heavy and the child or children drifted off, the chore was done and the pleasantness of a special experience and memory had been set in place. 

The children are all gone now.  There are no bedtime stories.  If reading is done, it is usually quietly and serves to lure you to sleep.  But in our house over the last year or so, a reversal of roles has occurred.  As mentioned here frequently we are the parents of two dogs, one a daschund, the other a papillion.  Because they are rescue pets, we have no idea where some of the idiosyncratic behaviors developed or how or when.  Our papillion, Patton, has developed a characteristic that is puzzling, delightful, unusual and darling.  We ask him if he has a story for us tonight.  He begins with this mesmerizing,  low, and sustained groan, not growl, pleasant muttering sound, as if he is, in fact, weaving a story.  We continue prompting him with questions and urgings, to which he responds with a continuing monologue of his account of some occasion in his life’s experience.  It literally feels as if he is reporting an event, spinning a tale, relating an experience that he knows all so well and we appear to understand.  It is utterly delicious.   He is in charge and continues the story until eventually it comes to its conclusion.  We feel as if we have been entertained and informed by his unwinding this tale and he seems to respond with appreciation. 

It is a joy to be in the position of listener, to discover the incredible talent of our wonderful pet who seems to enjoy the creative satisfaction of telling us stories.  Patton’s language is one we have to work at  understanding, but there is almost a sense that we are his audience and it is ours to respect his talent at keeping our attention.  Every night now, it seems, we look forward to these special moments when we inquire if he has a story for us, to which he begins with his moans and especially created sounds, looking back and forth between the two of us to make sure we are listening… it always feels as if we are hearing another of his stories for the first time. 

You may scoff at such as this.  Don’t dare.  You may be surprised, if  you have a pet, at the remarkable talents and untold secrets they can let you in on.  We never make light of Patton’s tales, not the way he tells them.  We, like our children of long ago, just snuggle in and await another hypnotic tale that introduces us to a night of favored rest, having heard another story and now seduced by the comfort of dropping off to sleep with our  night’s dog story telling  experience.

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