a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Milestones

Thursday, March 01, 2007


For at least two millennia before the advent of the modern highway sign, civilizations posted stones at various intervals along roads both ancient and new, each stone showing how far you had come and how far you had left to go. In general, reaching a milestone meant both that you had completed a sizeable leg of your journey and that you were, indeed, upon the right path. However, there were also zero milestones--those that marked the beginning of your journey, from which all distances were measured--or, if you were traveling towards the zero stone, it marked the end of your travels.

Today, we use the phrase milestone less often to refer to actual physical distances and more often to represent a key item in a project or a noteworthy event--minor or major--in our lives. Each represents a place in the forward hurtle of time when we can pause for a moment, resting in the shade from the heat of our lives burning like candles behind us, take a drink, and reflect on where we are, whence we have come, and what lies before us.

Life milestones don't often come in spurts; they are usually spaced with months or even years between them. Major life milestones can be so stressful on our system, whether sad or glad, that many coming together at once can break down our mental and physical defenses. Even lesser ones, stacked, give the sensation of a major moment.

I ramble slightly, but towards a point: I am overwhelmed by milestones, dotting my mind with their varying significances. On January 28, Boost achieved her first-ever agility title. The following week, she and I celebrated our shared birthday, mine proving that yes, indeed, I am indeed still in my 50s and have not moved back to my 30s, and I made the final payment to the breeder for my little girl, making her all mine beyond any doubt. The following weekend, Tika earned her ADCH with a Snooker Super-Q, both things that I had been aching for for a very long time. Later that week, a good friend encountered a terrible setback that affected me and others around us, ending a long-standing relationship, and I felt in the middle of it although there was little enough that I could do. A few days later, Tika's birthday, her sixth, which says that she's got only another year before--by some definitions--she's a "veteran" dog. Last weekend, Jake competed in his first trial in 6 months (I had forgotten it had been so long--but with my knee, I had cancelled out of or not entered the intervening CPE trials) and earned two qualifying scores out of two runs, even placing against a large group of younger dogs, proving that 15-year-olds still have it. And then, that same agility weekend, out of the dismaying blue, he suffered severe seizures in the night and his journey came to its end.

I had already been awaiting with dull anticipation the fourth anniversary of Remington's death, following severe seizures in the night of an agility trial weekend--four years ago March 8.

Please, whatever gods you may be, let me sit and rest and recover from this blur of milestones.

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