[Giacomino - pronounced jocka-MEEno - is fourteen and a half. We rescued him, starved and sick, from a for profit breeder who had sold two of his littermates, at five and one half weeks of age, to a pet store. We thought we could find him a home. He was in our house for about ten minutes when we realized something. He was home.]
Very Old Dog has been my shadow for over fourteen years. Even though I learned, long ago, never to step backwards without looking, I have still stepped on him 459 times. When I shower, he curls up on the bath mat. When I type, my chair ends up scooted in too far under the computer desk, because he has sprawled out beyond the edges of his bed, and if I move back I'll run over his sweet nose. Right now, in bed as I type on my newly repaired and once again functional laptop, his head is on my right foot.
The dogs all went to bed last night a little past nine, (lobbying for their snacks early) but I finished some sewing. I came in the bedroom an hour later. Very Old Dog was sound asleep on the foot of our bed, (I lift him up and he gets his snack there) where he has his own pillow and blankets. I brushed my teeth, and when I climbed in bed, my Very Old Dog got up - no simple task these days and nights - and moved up to the top to rest his head on my arm. His coat is so soft. And though most of his brindle patch has faded to white, his ears are still black. They often stand straight up now, straining, because they don't hear much anymore. But they feel as silken and soothing as they ever did.
He looked at me, and sighed, and snuggled in and then even with my limited human understanding, I realized something. Very Old Dog always used to lie next to me on the couch, or climb in my lap in a chair, and lately he hasn't been. It dawned on me that it isn't because he doesn't want to, which is what I thought. He can't. He can't get up on a couch. My heart broke a little bit.
Today, I picked him up and held him in my lap whenever I could. Even extra for lost time. And I will tomorrow and every day I can.