Old dogs are the most trusted friend you can have. They know everything about you, and they still love you. Old dogs keep all your secrets and everything about you is safe with them. They snuggle at your feet, offering a muzzle for no reason other than love. They slowly meander into whatever room you happen to be in, just because they want to be with you.
Their old whiskers rub against your elbow just for the warmth of your hand against their neck. They offer comfort when no one else even knows you need it. Old dogs have seen you seen you fight with your children and your spouse and they weren't sure who needed them most. Walking sadly from room to room or person to person not understanding the slamming doors and loud voices.
They have found you crying alone in the dark and ask no questions, only offering a wet nose to let you know they cared. They've joyously played in the snow with you, shared ice on a hot August day, and waited patiently for you to come home from work. They danced with delighted glee at your appearance even though in your haste you didn't always notice. They forgave without exception when you left them alone while on vacation or when you forgot their favorite toy, or when a new puppy joined the family. Old dogs have watched the young pups take their attention, yet still snuggled without anger. Their presence so familiar, we forget they are there, until they are gone. They bark at an empty walk hoping to recapture the glory of their youth, when no one dared take a step on that walk without them being the first to know. My old dog, she is struggling today. When the air is cool it is harder. The trip up the stairs becomes slow and grueling. I pick her up and carry her and am rewarded with an affectionate wet lick. I sit her gently down, she regains her paws, wags her tail and watches me put on my makeup. Slowly her eyes close and although I call her name, she doesn't hear me, her hearing is nearly gone. Before I leave for work, I gently nudge her awake, and she tries to jump to her feet to tell me goodbye, but the hind legs are stiff and her hindquarters slump a bit. I give them a gentle massage and she grunts in appreciation. When I come home it is she who is sitting at the door, tail wagging. The mail gets read, the puppy demands to go outside and the cell phone rings. She sits patiently waiting on just a touch of my hand or word from me. I remember then, and talk to her, pet her and love her. Satisfied she retreats to her favorite corner behind the couch and sleeps. Today she didn’t realize the screen door was closed and walked into it. I notice the cloudy look of cataracts across her once sparkling brown eyes. Her tail wags unconcerned when I smile and rub her nose. To my old dog:Thank you for letting me find you in the pound on day when I need you so much.
Thank you for knowing I was the one. You came to the end of the cage only to me ignoring all those others who were so interested in your pretty face. Thank you for sitting with me when I couldn’t sleep. Thank you barking when the alarm didn’t go off but your bladder did and I wasn’t late for work. Thank you for growling at strangers at the door. Thank you for having my back when I heard noises in the middle of the night. Thank you for checking on the children in the middle of the night and whining when something wasn’t right. Thank you for sleeping under my desk as I wrote words I wasn’t sure anyone would ever read. Thank you for going on those long drives with me after I received rejection after rejection. Thank you for sleeping with me on nights when I felt lonely. Thank you for joining me in a prayer after my daughters car wreck, your head tucked gently under my arm. Thank you for playing joyously with the children, letting them dress you up, pull you around and swing you endlessly for so many summers. Thank you for sitting beside me in those children’s empty rooms when they’d started making their own lives. Thank for being there for the darkest moment of my life, when I lost one of the most precious persons in my life. For weeks you sat quietly whenever I needed to cry, whenever I needed comfort. No complaints, no questions, just unconditional concern. Thank you for your joy, your comfort and your friendship. My old dog, she understands life. I think I’ve learned more from my dog then any teacher, mentor, parent or friend. Enjoy youth for it is fleeting. Enjoy friends for true friends are few, nurture them. Just be there. No words are necessary to comfort someone. Sadness and grief are part of life, a very difficult part but with love they can be endured. Children grow up and leave home, but never leave your heart. If you find a life-mate cherish them, be considerate of them, let them know you feel joy at seeing them, because you never know when they might not come back through that door again. Forgive, yet remember where the big dogs are that bite and avoid them. Fight for those you love. To my Hailey, I know your time with me grows short. So, I’ll hold you a little longer, pet you a little more gently, enjoy hearing you snore as it tells me you are close. I will walk slower so we can enjoy the trek and I will be there to carry you up those stairs when you need it. NOTE: Hailey took her last trip down the stairs in my arms this morning. Once again, she can run -- like a comet. I will miss my little shadow more than I can say. May All the Write Words be Yours,Linda