Friday, August 31, 2012

In Praise of Old Dogs

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There is something about an old dog that gets to me. Labradors—before Max came along, my family was a lab family—pugs, old mutts… they seem to sink down into the spaces left by departed energy in their bodies and mellow. Their beloved faces become pale, snow-spangled, and luminous with love that has faced down time and fallen into pillow-softness.

Today while my car was being inspected I sat with Deke, a giant labrador in his 17th year of being loyal, loving, and steadfast. His pal, an aging golden a few years younger, came lumbering up to place a giant, ivory head on my lap for strokes, but Deke is past the days when he has the energy. Flopped in a cool spot with a kindly placed doggie bed that could only be described as well-loved, Deke wagged his tail while his younger friend got the pats.

I got down on the floor and rubbed him from salt-and-pepper snout to thick, thumping tail. It was a joy to give Deke that rubbing, so clearly longed for from his spot by the register.

Old dogs often find their way into shelters because they lose owners, or families move, or medical expenses get beyond a family’s budget. I’m lucky to live in an area where we have many no-kill shelters, very few dogs in need of them, and can take overflow from shelters outside our area as a result. Most of the dogs who find their ways to our adoption centers are old, sickly, or a breed that is misunderstood. I glance through the listings in my local paper every weekend and almost all of the dogs looking for homes are pitbulls or  past prime.

Consider one.  They are like grandparents—completely liberated from responsibilities, but overflowing with a lifetime of experience, love, and patience.

And thanks, Deke, for letting me visit… it was a pure pleasure to set a spell with you.

1 comments ]:[ Add your comment:

Betty S said...

So true, isn't it? What an adorable dog. The eyes say at all :) Our previous dog came from a shelter to our home at the tender age of 8. Quite old for a large breed. She was with us for 3 years until she passed away from cancer. She slept next to my side of the bed every night. Why would someone want to miss out on that.

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