Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Living with a Very Old Dog

When you first came into my life you were soft and small and sweet, and you looked at me with those eyes, and I thought that I loved you already but that wasn't even possible, was it? I wondered if I could live with you and if we would bond all the way, the way we should.

You were a perfect puppy, no doubt about it. You were so bright; seemed you came already knowing all the rules. Sometimes there was an accident in the house, but not if I paid attention. You would wake me up three times at night to go out and pee. I couldn't blame you for getting distracted by a blowing leaf, or moon shadows, could I? You loved life! Of course there were those shoes, but that was my fault for putting them right there in the closet on the floor where they were entirely too tempting. I left the birthday cake where you could reach it on the kitchen table and you couldn't help throwing up that colorful icing on the oriental carpet. Your favorite part of the game 'fetch' was watching me throw a ball/stick/toy, sitting stock still while it landed, and then running with me to get whatever I had thrown. You must have known that I needed the exercise. Such a good puppy.

That contented sigh as you noodled your nose into the crook of my neck when we were on the couch? I wondered how I ever lived without you, now that we had bonded all the way, the way we should. You were my shadow.

Now your eyes are a bit cloudy and your ears look like satellite dishes, but someone has played a cruel trick and turned the volume way down. Unless it's the cookie jar; you can still hear that from upstairs. Those darn stairs. You are quite certain that you can do those stairs. You've been doing them for fourteen years, after all. I want to help you, and you are considerate, so most of the time you wait for me. But, I am slow and don't pay enough attention. When you tumble down the last three or four, I have a heart attack. You struggle back on your feet and wag at me so I don't feel bad. You limp and wag and look embarrassed for me.

You are a perfect old dog. You wake me up three times each night to go out to pee. There aren't that many accidents in the house; who cares? You look at me with those eyes, the eyes which have welcomed me home every time, which have said, "It's okay, just throw the stick and we can chase it together, and whatever is making you sad will get left far behind." You are so soft and sweet; your breathing is louder and you don't bark anymore. That happened gradually. I didn't notice until you stopped barking, ever.

As I type this you plunk down from the couch and shake, legs going wonky, come and give me an old dog breath wag. Your breath makes that raspy old dog noise and I smile at you. I love the smell of your corn chips feet.

We've bonded all the way, my sweet old dog. You know me better than I do. You know secrets. You know joy. You know when I wake up from a nightmare and you noodle that nose into the crook of my neck. You know me. And now I wonder, every once in a while, how will I ever live without you?

Sweet Old Dog.


  1. this was hard to read - i feel so much the same way about joker. big lump in my throat.

  2. You have our mom in tears, Patience! This is such a wonderful post!

    Love ya lots
    Maggie and Mitch

  3. Oh. My. Yes. How well I know that feeling, that question of "how will I ever live without you?" when I look in my old dogs' eyes. Thank you for saying it so beautifully.

    Very old dogs are the very, very best.

  4. I'm facing the last years with two of my sweet babes and I can't stand to think about the times ahead without them. You have said it all so well. I must go give my two girls hugs and tell them how they are my world.

  5. Oh Patience. Why can't they live as long as we do. Sweet Old Dog. Exquisite.

  6. Sweet dog, we love you because Patience does, and we sit here in the dining room of Friendship Village and cry, because Patience does. But also because it is therapy for the other things going on today.

    Thank you for the wonderful post.

    Thank Patience for sharing you with us.

    Gussie and the muzzer

  7. Patience, your writing is simply lovely. It's also making me cry. I have lost two old dogs in the past three years with three more dogs who've gotten even older along the way. But as I read your words, I was struck just as much by the knowledge that for the last year I've been experiencing all the lovely puppy and young dog things you mention and I really don't want her to grow any older. I know she has wonderful things to share with me on her journey, but I wish we could go from 3 months to 2 years and then pause for many years. Totally not right, but still...

  8. Martha,P-Doggy and CheNovember 1, 2011 at 12:59 PM

    Sweet Ol' Dog-we go on BECAUSE of you,though we never stop loving and missing ANY of you, (getting teary again-must go!)

  9. My dearest Missy is 15. I adopted her at 6. A few months ago she had surgery to remove a tumor from her bladder. Not benign. She'll be on medication for the rest of her days. Sounds sad but hard to always be so when she bobs around like a champion. ;o) None of this has affected her appetite.

    She's true and my only companion. I know life is suppose to go on when she's no longer here, but how? Sure we all go on, but darn.

    No one would ever suspect she's ill. She looks fantastic. A real trooper. How I'll miss her. But in the meantime I'm filled with compassion for her. To be ill and that old, you just need hugs ya know. So I hug her a lot. ;o) Thank God for such faithful companions.

  10. That was as sweet as it was heart wrenching. my Girls are between the ages of 2-3 y/o and i feel the same way for all three of them.

    i know i have a long way to go before any of my three girls get to this point but when that time comes i have no idea how i will live without any of them.

    Tail Wiggles & Puppy Kisses,

    The Mommy of Coco Bean, Truffle & Lady Godiva

  11. Thank you so much have said, so eloquently, what all of us parents feel. And thank you for putting into 'human terms' what I know Dante must be saying to us! Much Love Always!!!!

  12. My dear old Timmy has most of those problems also and it breaks my heart to watch him. He also has times where he seems to be lost and not know who I am.

    He was a senior when I adopted him and everyone said "why would you adopt such an old dog?" but here we are 8 yrs later still going.

    Everyday I think how devastated I will be when the time comes but I'll take the grief in exchange for all the joy he has brought me.

    Thanks so much for such a beautiful post.

  13. Hi Patience. while watching the dog show on Thanksgiving I thought of you. Just had to come bye to visit and see how are going. I see you have not posted in awhile. So sorry you lost your love.


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