A friend reached out to me last week, feeling overwhelmed that her dog was getting older and asking me to remind her why it is I love old dogs so much. I assured her that the things that were overwhelming her, the arthritis, the senior blood work, the ‘what ifs’ were not the things I love about old dogs. No one wants the physical decline to occur, but the reality is, that part happens. It happens to all of us – human and dog.
With dogs though, those physical things that happen, they come with a balance of beautiful moments and lessons.
- Old dogs live to love (and eat). They love you, like no other creature could ever love you. As far as they are concerned, you created the sun and the sun spot they are snuggled upon. They want nothing more than to be near you. And this isn’t about them worshiping their human, it’s about love in the purest form. So many of our (human) relationships are conditional, or memory gets in the way. With old dogs, the love they feel is here and now. You screwed up yesterday? They don’t recall that. Work is gonna be stressful this week? They will be waiting for you to get home so they can love you some more!! They are forever in the present.
- Sure, they slow down, but that’s a reminder that you should too. Time spirals out of control most days, old dogs just have it right. Linger, saunter slowly down the sidewalk. Glance up at the sky. Forget where you are headed. Lay down mid walk, Life is happening in that very moment, don’t miss a single, glorious minute.
- Bumps show up on their skin and their muzzles turn gray, they don’t care. They don’t fret about the aging process, they only care that there is love in your eyes. That you snuggle with them. That food shows up as often as possible. They keep it simple.
- Arthritis kicks in, it’s hard to watch, but then you realize, they don’t complain. They adjust. They don’t wish they were a puppy again. They live for right now. For you, sitting there next to them. Watch the joy an old dog experiences when you get down on the floor with them! And even through creaky bones and joints, THEY WILL CHASE THAT BALL. Because they love chasing that ball and old dogs do the things they love. Oh the lessons they teach!
- They nap more often and I can tell you with absolute certainty that watching an old dog nap is a beautiful thing. They have faith in what you have surrounded them with. Their home, their bed, their family.
- Their eyes may cloud up, but they have never seen the real you more clearly. Their eyes have seen the best and worst of you and those eyes have never judged. The things they can communicate with just a single glance can heal you in ways you never imagined.
- Their hearing goes, and they don’t always listen. Hey, when we are 90 years old, are the rules really what we are going to concern ourselves with? But have no fear, even deaf dogs can hear the treat jar open. You cannot help but laugh.
- They have accidents. But in that moment when you say ‘it’s ok’ and you clean it up, they will give you their heart.
Pure. True. Love.
Old dogs have life figured out. I truly believe if they could talk, the world would heal. When life is swirling all about, they remain grounded and true. They will take only what you can give. Nothing is too much or too little. They live only for right now, with you.
Go hug a senior dog, go run, do it!