In praise of old dogs

If dog-years are one-seventh the length of people years, then Willow has reached 80, more or less. She walks and climbs stairs less certainly than before, as if she suffers the same aches and pains that my 60-something knees and back must contend with, and she looks and feels more fragile.

When you have an old dog, you’ve had a puppy and a decade or more of companionship and adventures and maybe a close call or two.

You’ve been awakened or otherwise startled by a random bark, and you’ve had an attentive witness to every bite of every meal and snack you ever tasted.

You’ve laid a comforting hand on an anxious shoulder through dozens of thunderstorms and neighborhood fireworks displays.

You’ve had a soft head and shoulders to massage to calm your soul and a nose on your knee to make you feel less alone in trying times.

You’ve thrown a ball 15,735,622 times and had it returned many of those times.

You’ve been lifted from the depths of despair by two brown eyes and a swift wag of a tail.

When you have an old dog, you have thousands of memories shared with a friend who can remind you of them all without words, just a nuzzle and a snuggle and a long, contented sigh.

Published by WarrenBluhm

Wordsmith and podcaster, Warren is a reporter, editor and storyteller who lives near the shores of Green Bay with his wife, two golden retrievers, and an insistent cat. Author of How to Play a Blue Guitar, A Bridge at Crossroads, Refuse to be Afraid, and A Scream of Consciousness.

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