Wolf was sitting next to me, his weight leaning heavily on to my arched legs.
The cold does a wonderful job rejuvenating that tireless, playfull spark, and our walks where by no means reduced to a swift walk around the block. I could sense his eagerness to jolt up and approach a dog that was being pulled along the grass. It’s owner was juggling a smartphone with one hand and a very disagreeable leash with the other, and it seemed that that beagle was about to be dragged around the corner without the chance of saying hello.
I couldn't really complain to be honest. I never fancied having random dogs speed up towards us and, as i often try to put myself in Wolf’s shoes, i would detest having random strangers confront me in such an unsociable manner.
Part of me wanted to disregard the voice of concern that seeked to remind me of Wolf’s fragile age. But just a quick glance towards his greying snout will make it clear that what i previously considered to be an epilogue to our lengthy walks, is now our final resting stop before strolling back through the dusty Athenian suburbs. With my fingertips brushing softly against his thick fluffy neck i gently let him know that it is time we slowly got up, but he did not seem ready to abandon his marble seat.
He does this thing which, by all means, is one of the his most iconic mannerisms. He sits. Like a human. It was him actually that decided to rest his bum on that smooth marble slab, prompting me to sit next to him and bask under the timelessness of Ancient Athens.
The Acropolis, the Kallimarmaro and the Pillars of Zeus where all at arms length and, in a time devoid of travel restrictions, your ears will always pick up the occasional foreign chit-chat. He sprang up the moment i gently smacked my hands against my knees, prompting me to add that to the ever-expanding list of non-verbal cues that he has been accumulating all throughout the years. He knows when the computer is about to shut down, he senses when the conversation i am having is coming to a close, and now, with every step taking him closer to the National Garden, he seems to realise that i am firmly bending against my will.
It will not be long before the Greek winter fades away, and the crackling fireplaces, the wool jumpers and the bright red noses will be there to accompany it in it’s departure. Along with all the festive merriness that pierces right through the grey, drab sky.
Would this be the last time we walk down these roads?....The weather is slowly getting warmer and, even during the months of spring, summer is eager to step in and briefly introduce us to it’s blazing rays. A swift reminder that the heat of the days to come will be so intense, they will make you wonder if this land could ever really make you shiver and long for a steaming mug of hot chocolate. But Wolf didn’t even seem to care if his arthritis would be getting the best of him on our way back, let alone worry about future temperature spikes.
It was a cold, chilly morning when i got a call from mum. Not only had my absence rendered him sad and miserable, but it was becoming all the more apparent that the condition of his joints was getting worse by the day. A week later i was in Greece. Wolf stretched out and fast asleep on the vet’s metal slab, while i was trying to make sense of the x-ray that glowed softly in front of me. Like rocks worn out by the sea’s constant, unrelenting abuse, what should have resembled a ball... a smooth, circular bone lodged in to his left hip, had been scraped and filed down to a sharp pointy end. No wonder he was unhappy. Even with the doctor’s finger gliding above the transparent film, i felt that no assistance was required in understanding what was wrong.
More that two years have past since we began our daily routine of medicinal kibbles and joint supplements, and now he is trotting amongst the Garden’s trees like the happiest pup in world. He did not seem to mind that the leafs had turned in to a mushy, brown mess, or that today this would be as far as our walk would go. He was either genuinely not tired, or his excitement to run once more in this vast expanse of trees and grass had muffled any feelings of weariness and fatigue.
If a random reporter stuck a mic under his nozzle and bombarded him with questions regarding the severity of the pandemic, i doubt that his responses would ever earn a place on a news channel’s “COVID” segment. Last thing we want to air is a light-hearted discussion with someone who would drool at the prospect of an indefinite lockdown.
I called him gently... as he was rolling in the thick bushes and i wanted to give him a second to indulge himself before dragging him along back through the suburbs. He came, reluctantly, and i stroked him softly between the eyes.