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.