By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
We’re entering the second week of spring training for Bix, the Mississippi mudhound.
Even considering our kids’ revved-up motors, Bix is easily the most active member of the family. For good reason:
n He doesn’t watch television.
n He’s the only one who doesn’t get yelled at when running through the house.
n More importantly, he’s a dog.
But December to February can be cruel to a cooped-up mudhound, and March 2010 didn’t provide much release.
Bix has developed what we’ll call a “winter coat.” Now, it’s time to work it off.
“Don’t think of it as work, Boss,” he said between heavy, panting breaths.
“You stole that line from ‘Animal House.’”
“I don’t watch TV. Throw the ball! Throw the ball.”
That was on a sunny afternoon. The kids were with their Nana for the day, so my wife and I took Bix to the Chickasaw Village on the Natchez Trace.
I flew one of my stunt kites, another activity Bix doesn’t understand.
“The kite’s having all the fun,” he said. “You’re just standing there, not chasing a thing.”
“It only looks that way,” I said.
“It looks that way a lot,” he said. “Throw the ball! Throw the ball!”
Those demands were directed at my wife, who did as she was told. When she took over the kite, I tossed the ball. Bix got a great workout. I didn’t notice any changes to his winter coat, but he was happy.
The enjoyment didn’t last. He was hurting during our regular morning walk the next day. The squirrels openly taunted him.
“That one just called you a poodle,” I said.
“He’ll pay for that,” Bix said. “Tomorrow.”
It’s hard to watch an athlete lose a step. Lord willing, Bix has several years left, but he’s not the puppy he once was. I got to thinking about the old days, when the rawhide chew bone was bigger than he was.
“I remember when you couldn’t jump up on the couch,” I said. “You’d get a running start, jump up and pound your snout on the cushion. You’d bounce to the floor, get up and do it again.”
“Doesn’t ring a bell,” he said.
“How about the time you chewed through my computer’s power cord?” I said. “I’m glad I saw the smoke when I did. The house could’ve burned down.”
“Doesn’t sound like me,” he said.
“All right, Bix, enough with let’s remember,” I said. “How about I throw the ball?”
“Not now,” he said. “Tonight, after you get home.”
A part of me admires Bix for his focus on moving forward. He doesn’t talk much about the past. Yesterday bores him.
“You can’t chase yesterday’s squirrels,” he said.
Still, he’s getting slower, and mortal creatures have only so much allotted time. Come what may, I’ll remember.
“Good dog, Bix,” I said, and he wagged his tail.
M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal entertainment writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.