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Hey, Old Dog

August 21st, 2008 · No Comments · Commentary

lindas-dog.jpgSubmitted by Linda Nasbaum

I was reminded of my old dachshund recently when a friend spoke about his. He talked about watching his 13-year-old dog try to get up and fail. I listened to his heartbreak as he described his longtime friend, a pooch so delightful his name is Happy. I saw the tears in his eyes and was reminded of my own aging animal. He’s 13 too.
I thought in that moment how I would feel when Simon (my dog) passes. I considered how I have often thought about the eventuality of him leaving, to better prepare myself. I wonder if it will help.
His face is so gray now; he’s like an old man dog. In the past his keen ears would alert us from anywhere in the house, intruder, someone at the door. Bark! Bark! Bark! We even relied on him because the doorbell is hard to hear in the back room.
Now he often sleeps through a knock at the door, one of many new behaviors my husband and I attribute to him growing old.
But it’s not all sad; Bennett (the husband) and I often revel in the retelling of a new Simon adventure as if we’re invited guests to witness this dog’s next stage of life.
We laugh at how his routine keeps changing. He gets up at 6:30 a.m. for a walk and breakfast and another walk at 3 p.m. just before dinner. I used to walk him once in the morning and again late at night. That seems like ages ago.
Over the last few years he would want to be taken for a walk sooner and sooner. It started at 5 p.m. for dinner, then 4 p.m. and now it’s at 3 p.m. We laugh about Simon’s senior citizen schedule, and we are amused.
And there was the time Simon had his teeth cleaned and his gums were in such bad shape that when I picked him up he was left with four teeth. A shock to Simon I’m sure, and a shock to me. He eats soft senior food now, mashed up in his bowl so he can swallow it, somehow we found a way to be amused about that too.
Bennett and I talk about everything that happens to the dog, the latest attack from the cat, bouts of diarrhea, regular barfing episodes. Everything gets discussed and nothing gets us upset. We know the dog is aging.
Recently a friend who hasn’t seen Simon for a while watched him walk across the room and said, “He looks like he’s slowing down.”
I’ve known this for a while, but hearing it from another I am forced to really listen.
Will I be ready when it’s time for Simon to go? I don’t know. Will I miss him? Yes. I will in a hundred different ways. I will miss his beautiful face, the one I kiss sometimes when I’m telling him how much I love him. I will miss his warm body, his little tubular shape that feels like a hot water bottle on my legs as I sleep in the bed. I will miss my sleep mate. He has curled up next to me since he came into my life as a puppy.
I will miss his happiness, like when he grabs a squeaky toy and dares you to take it away from him. He holds on with his strong jaw and his four teeth. I still try and pull it from his mouth wondering if I will jar loose the remaining canines, so I go easy. He still feels so much like a puppy. How can he be an old-man dog?
Bennett likes to remind me how little dogs live longer. I usually like hearing this and feel like I have some more time, extra time. But after listening to my friend talk about his dog named Happy, I realized none of us can be sure of anything, accept how we feel right now, in this moment about our four-legged friends.
Here’s what I know. I love my Simon. I love my Simon. I love my Simon.

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