By Leah Felderman Updated: 01/20/2018
I find solace in the thought that I could possibly, hopefully, age as gracefully as my dog. He has put on a few pounds in his elder years, and he wears it well. My furry old man looks great in his newfound wrinkles and skin folds and I appreciate his candor as he passes gas any place, any time. He unabashedly wears his thoughts and emotions on his proverbial sleeve; as of late he is not fond of early mornings or visits from strangers. I too am not fond of early mornings or unexpected visitors at my door. Unfortunately, it is unacceptable for me to growl at unwelcome strangers; maybe when I'm older! Even people he has met plenty of times before he tends to forget, and will offer his best growl and bark to; sorry postal delivery, this also includes you! Perhaps I will be more like my neighbor's old lab, so eager to interact with every passing person, stranger or well known. Maybe it will just depend on the day.
My sweet old dog sleeps a lot more and sleeps more deeply. His dreams are loud and raucous and make me curious as to what they contain: regaling in his youth or dreaming of the future, sans arthritic aches and pains? As much more as he sleeps he is also equally as restless come evening. Difficult to get comfortable, despite the growing abundance of prescription assistance to help him settle down at night. I know this will be me, a life time full of sports and outdoor adventures have not been kind to my body. Yet, even after a difficult night he is still ready for (and expects) his morning stroll on the beach. I take comfort in this and look forward to my beach walks with him, despite both of our increased aches and pains and pills.
My old dog makes me acutely aware of what is important as I get older.
My old dog gets acupuncture; I too get acupuncture occasionally. It works well for us both. Yet, it is pricey (and not covered by insurance) so I make certain he gets the lion's share of the acupuncture visits. It instantly makes me feel better to see how revived he is after a session, and truth be told I really don't like needles (no matter how good I feel afterwards). Perhaps if I can age like my dog I will be able to overlook the small details, like needles, and focus on the end result: feeling like I could catch a squirrel and a couple of milk bones for the ride home.
Getting my sweet old dog to attend to his personal care requires more and more of a bribe. Truth be told we have given up on the nail trimming, such a minute point it's not worth the stress for either of us. Gone are the luxurious oatmeal baths complete with hose play. We both begrudgingly attend to his bathing as a necessary evil, although we are both still fortunate to be thrilled with drying off in a warm fluffy towel complete with extemporaneous cuddles.
If I could enter my geriatric years as my dog does, I would be content and welcome the opportunity. He scratches himself in public, drools with abandon, and loves every second he gets to spend with us. He is happy for a walk in the woods, a stroll on the beach, or just hanging out on the couch watching tv and eating potato chips (hence the few extra pounds). While he is often unwilling to eat a balanced meal, he has mastered the art of puppy dog eyes and reminds me that it is kind to share. I happily share my meal with him, but pass when he offers to share his nondescript prize from the far corners of the yard with me. He doesn't quite understand the concept of being vegetarian, but it is the thought and his generosity that count. I admire his good will and unselfish actions; he inspires me to be a better person.
Yes, he will often try to sneak his way out of some meds (truth be told some even smell bitter). Yet he has a soft spot for peanut butter and chicken. We both know that he knows they're hiding the pills. I happily oblige him with the extra treat, his years have earned it. He's crafty and I admire his mental acuity; impressive manipulating skills even at his advanced age. When I'm his age I will happily take any thing wrapped in ice cream and cookies.
He begrudgingly shares me with the rest of the family and I sometimes concede to let him crawl into bed next to another family member. The bed always feels empty sans snoring dog, although his sonorous tones reverberate throughout the house regardless of his selected sleeping spot. The snores of my old dog are comforting, juxtaposed with the snores of my spouse (which are somewhat annoying). They both harmoniously complement our happy household. Funny enough they both fart in their sleep, always good for a chuckle as I lie awake. Yes, I am somewhat bitter that the rest of the house can sleep so soundly, yet happy and grateful for yet another day with my old dog.
My old dog makes me acutely aware of what is important as I get older. It is important to be clean (a swim in the ocean counts), relatively pain free, and happy. It is important to get out and get some fresh air, exercise for your body and stimulation for your mind. It is important to be well-nourished with food, sleep, and love. The constant reflection on looks does not matter; it is wasted time to lament why my jeans from a decade ago no longer fit. The way I look in a bathing suit compared to 5 years ago (10, 15 years ago) does not matter. My wrinkles, my no longer perky parts, my "soon to be louder than socially acceptable" bodily sounds-none of that matters. If I could enter my geriatric years as my dog does, I would be content and welcome the opportunity. I have a lot to learn from my faithful sidekick and will welcome each day he gets to share his wisdom with me (as long as we don't have to wake up early for it).