Thursday, February 15, 2018

Lessons From An Old Dog

Oakley is at that age...
whatever that age might be.
We don't know how old he is because his age was unknown when he was placed in 
a shelter in Kentucky 7 years ago.
I found him on a rescue website...
on a list of poor souls who were scheduled to be euthanized two days later.
Believe me, the emails started flying in an attempt to rescue this handsome tail-wagger.

That was all we knew about him.
His history was as unknown as his age.
But there on every picture captured of him during his 30 allowable days at the shelter...
his tail was a blur.
He had kind eyes and a wagging tail.

And with that, we fell in love.
(The rest is a long and involved tale that is a chapter all to itself...
in that book, that yes, slowly, I am writing.)

Without knowing the years... as I said earlier...
Oakley is at that age.
His body is slower... he walks when he used to run.
His coat is greying and his teeth are worn down.
His hearing is not what it used to be.
He has lumps and bumps popping up that didn't used to be there.
He's put on a few pounds over the years.
Without a cocktail of daily medication he limps.
His body is old and it is slowly failing him.
He is not alone.

Each day we rise to greet the sun, we are a day older than we were before.
Days become weeks become months become years.

Inevitably, the signs appear.
Grey, wiry hairs burst forth from our heads (and other places we'd rather not mention).
Our eyes betray us... if only our arms were longer, reading would be much easier...
if only we could remember the name of the book we were reading.
When we rise from a chair, we swear that gravity is stronger than it used to be...
and would somebody please turn up the volume?
We're soft in places that once were hard...
and those soft places migrate south as the years pass.
The changes are slow and subtle, but they continue.

And yet, beneath it all... we are the same as we always were.
We are ageless, timeless beings merely renting temporary space in the vessel
we see staring back at us in the mirror.
But, we are not that vessel.
We are the sum of our experiences.
We are our hopes and dreams.
We are our memories.
We have loved and lost;  we have rejoiced in good fortune and endured sacrifice and hardship.
We are the wisdom gained from experience.

And like this old dog, nearing the end of this journey,
we, too, continue to see a life filled with possibilities.
The open spaces still beckon to us...
and though we might not run...
we'll wag our tails and we'll walk across them and revel in their beauty.

Our bodies are like a pair of shoes... meant to eventually be discarded.
Our shoes do not say who we are... they merely get us where we are going.
When the laces break and holes appear and the soles fall off....
we will once again run... barefoot and free.

-As told to me by a wise, old dog.


  1. What a beautiful post - nearly had me in tears. What a special dog Oakley is and what a wonderful life you have given him (and still giving him). Bless people like you that rescue animals and give them their forever home. You have a marvellous way of putting things, feelings, thoughts, opinions, down on paper and I truly would like to believe that we can run free again one day. Life is a journey and it is only as I have got older that I realise this. When you are younger life feels like it is forever - but it's not and through the hardships we should strive to enjoy life as much as possible. After all, it is not a rehearsal.

  2. This brought tears to my eyes as you described out black lab to a T. Her hips are failing her ( she has the lumps and bumps too) and we had to get her rubber sole shoes so she doesn't slip on the hardwood floors. She will be 13 in March. She is still so full of love and commitment.

  3. I got so carried away by this story that I burned my toast!

    What a wonderful fate for such a deserving soul. He landed in the right place!

  4. There is something so wonderful about an old dog. My two rescues are both elderly and I concentrate on the love they give me and try not to think about the end. Oakley is such a lucky dog and I hope will go on for a long time.

  5. what a terrific way to describe this wonderful though weird journey. i was watching two old guys in a restaurant the other day and suddenly i realized...omg, i bet they are my age.

  6. Love this!!! Please hurry up with that book!

  7. Yes, we are our memories both good and bad. Beautiful post. Well said . Enjoy each moment for It is over way too soon.xxoo

  8. Well, you did have me in tears,Bev. The analogy of our ageing bodies and old shoes and the final transformation back to the freedom of bare feet running is perfect.
    Thank you. I too am looking forward to your book. Take your time and let it develop as you want it to be.

  9. Bev, you are such a talented woman in so many ways. This post was so well written. I hope you'll share your book whenever you have it finished. I know it will be something I would love to have.

  10. Beautiful post Beverly . . .
    Wise, very wise . . . a keeper message . . .
    Head Pat for Oakely too . . .

  11. What a lovely post for all of us. We can all learn something from our furkids, including how to grow old gracefully, without complaining, just accepting as a gift each day as it comes. Thanks, Bev.

  12. I am in tears also. What a stately gentleman Oakley is. Thank you for adopting him all those years ago.

  13. Lovely post and photos . They say at the age of 8 a dog is considered a senior and by the look of his lovely aging face he might be 10 or so . Our Miggs is 8 1/2 and slowing down these days to she has Arthritis and lumps and bumps as well but she always has a happy tail wag for all and loves to be cuddled . Aren't our fur babies the best things on earth ?! Thanks for sharing , Have a good week !

  14. So well put and a wonderful reminder.

  15. Very lyrical and beautiful writing! I especially like your imagery about the old shoes and someday running barefoot and free again.

  16. I have rescued many super seniors from kill shelters in Los Angeles. It kills me that people discard them when they need their people the most at that time in their life. I understand caring for seniors is expensive though. I love caring for them and making them as comfortable as possible for the time they have left. I have a 14 year old poodle mix who is moving slower these days and his hearing is diminishing now. It just endears him to me even more.

  17. Loved your heartfelt words about Oakley and aging (for critters and humans). You definitely have a gift with your ability to express yourself in writing. Would love to read your book when it's finished and published. Also, have you tried a turmeric supplement for Oakley's aches/pains/inflammation?

  18. That's a beautiful (and wise) post. I have a half Lab, half Dane and because of her size she probably won't live the life span we have come to expect from dogs. I hope she'll beat the odds though, because there's never been a sweeter dog and life won't be nearly the same when she's gone. Luckily that's still a few years away and I get to enjoy my time now.

  19. What a beautiful post. Marcia

  20. An American in TokyoFebruary 15, 2018 at 9:34 PM

    Lovely words and lovely Oakley!!
    Thank you for sharing them with us.
    I hope that he is enjoying each and every day with you!! =)

  21. diane in northern wisFebruary 15, 2018 at 9:44 PM

    Oh my .... what a beautiful and touching post today. I have reached my 70th year just a couple of months ago and so I know the reality of things slowing down. Lent also brings us the subtle reminder that we won't be around forever. So enjoy each day and make the most of them. Do all the good you can for all those around you. Be a sign of hope to those you meet, and for sure give your beloved critters a good hug and a treat as often as you can. Blessings to you and yours Bev.


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