It breaks my heart that Banjo has aged so much this year. Though he turned 12 in February, he’s only started slowing down dramatically in the last few months. He still follows me up and down the stairs all day long, but a bit more slowly. Of course, his Greenies and the tiny dog treats he enjoys are only dispensed from my office drawer, which is likely the incentive for him to climb those stairs repeatedly.

My husband says Banjo’s a mama’s boy, which may be the true incentive. Heaven forbid Banjo be on a different floor than his mom. He’s been attached to me ever since I took him to training at PetSmart. He loves his dad, but he’s pretty much my dog.

This quote I found on a Great Pyrenees Facebook page sums up his personality perfectly: “I roam, I bark, and I don’t always listen, but I’ll guard you and love you forever and always.” He’s part Pyr, and if he weren’t black, he’d be the poster child for this quote.

I say he’s taken to going “walkabout,” an Australian term for a journey taken by young Aboriginal males between the ages of 10 and 16. I guess he’s the right age.

He’s fine as long as he goes out the side door because the electric fence encloses the side and back yards. Unfortunately, as his eyesight’s begun to fail, he no longer wants to go out that door after dark. Picture me encouraging him to get to his feet and move from the living room to the kitchen door. Not happening. He simply rolls over on his back and becomes 60 pounds of dead weight. 

Thus began his evening trips out the front door. All was fine until it wasn’t — until he started expanding his boundaries, venturing into the neighbor’s yard, and taking his sweet time responding to the come command. For now, I continue to let him out the front and watch him closely, but I worry. 

Barking is another issue. What triggers a bark? It can be something as obvious as walkers on the street or deer in the driveway. On occasion, a leaf may fall, or as my sister says about her dog, he may bark at an ant crawling on a blade of grass. Since Pyrs were bred to protect herds of sheep and goats, I’m sure he sees himself as our vigilant guard dog and us as his herd. 

Pyrs are nocturnal animals, so it’s natural for Banjo to bark at night, though for years he’s been a pretty sound sleeper and barked very little until daylight. As I wrote in another column, that all changed when he developed doggie dementia and began standing in the kitchen barking in the middle of the night. So far, we have that under control.   

As for listening, Pyrs are known to have minds of their own, and Banjo does, particularly when I call “Banjo, come.” That tendency combined with going walkabout can make for an irritating combination. No matter his issues, I love my boy, and he promises to “guard me and love me forever and always.” What more can a gal ask for?

Kathy is a Sandy Springs resident. Find her books, “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch” and “The Ink Penn: Celebrating the Magic in the Everyday,” at the Enchanted Forest and on Amazon. Contact her at inkpenn119@gmail.com.

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