This morning, my dog, Fern, and I had a good discussion about toast and jam. Y’want something deeper? C’mon, she’s a dog. I was luxuriating in my lounge chair, about to partake in a toasted slice of pumpernickel slathered with butter and raspberry jam, when Fern, our elderly black Lab, ambled over. She looked up and said, “I know you pretty damned well, Burr, and you’re going to give me some.” I shot back, “Yup, probably right.”

As I savored the heavenly flavor matchup, Fern focused with Billy Graham-size reverence on what I was doing. In the end, yes, she got her share. I ripped off ample chunks and flung ’em into her goofy, waiting maw. And, yes, she thanked me profusely. Afterward, I looked on the dog age calculator and found, by golly, Fern and I are exactly the same age. Having been together all that time, we do, indeed, know each other pretty damn well.

During Betsy’s recent hospital stay, we placed Fern with our friend, Ginny, and her two canine companions, Bennie and Nelly. Ginny said Fern was the perfect guest — described her as a “diplomat,” she did — but really, Fern’s just a wimp. At our house, she’s not allowed on the furniture. In fact, Betsy lays my music stand across our couch, which gives me another good excuse not to practice and keeps Fern floor-bound. On Fern’s return to the Morse residence, however, Betsy forgot the music stand. The first morning back home, we caught her sleeping ever so peacefully on the couch, looking like she had just returned from a cruise. When sternly banished to the floor, her protests fell flat on Betsy’s deaf ears. After Fern and I “broke bread,” she backed right up for some quality backside scratchin’ (hers, not mine). These days, through age and habits, lots of bumps and sags have settled into her wrong places and I know her time’s limited before going over the Rainbow Bridge — Yikes — that means me, too. Yes, I bear a few bumps and sags in my own “wrong places.”

Fern and I will no doubt meet up one day beyond that Rainbow Bridge, as well as Averill, Tessa, Maple, Rumi, Tia and Nipper. It’ll be a great reunion complete with buttered toast and jam, backside scratchin’ and dog/human peace. Although I’ve been blessed with some great human friends throughout my life so far, there’s something extra special about my dog friends. Right now, Fern’s laying at our window, basking in the radiant sunshine. I look down at her and she smiles at me — how can this old Vermonter not love a bumpy old dog?

Burr Morse lives in East Montpelier.

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