Monday, December 9, 2013

Slice of Life – The Honor of Watching Her Age

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Two Writing Teachers

Thanks to my fifth grader writers for helping with this piece in our workshop on Monday. Thanks for their kind words and suggestions. Thanks for ignoring the tears that were threatening to overwhelm their teacher and focusing on the writing instead. What a great writing group to be part of.

Sunday morning I rose at 5:30 to my alarm clock. Not the blaring incessant beep from a machine, but the soft sound of paws clicking across the upstairs floor. The sound of a nose nudging my bedroom door open. I could almost hear the unasked question pouring forth, “When are you taking me out?”

Bally is a senior citizen in the dog world, a thirteen and a half year old golden. Caring for an aging dog is not as glamorous as caring for a puppy. She doesn’t have tons of energy, want to play, or even get excited for a run anymore. She shows her excitement in new ways now – the wisdom that comes with age has allowed her to mellow. Her feeling can be seen as her head swivels to look at you when you come in. The soft thump of her tail coming from her bed near the Christmas tree, a beat heard throughout the house to tell us how happy she is we’re home.

Yesterday I slowly got out of bed and helped her down the stairs. Her hips are failing, as are her eyes. Stairs are a chore but, more often than not, she still insists on sleeping upstairs where we are. She thumped down a step at a time, taking a moment to pause now and again. I can carry her if need be. Her once stocky 85-pound frame has shrunk down to a liftable 45, but she does not like being picked up, so I save that for when absolutely necessary.

We moved to the last staircase and she slowly moved down the final steps. It was only then that I looked up and saw the snow. I sucked in a breath; I hadn’t realized that snow was in the forecast, and yet there it was – a light dusting covering as far as my eyes could see. I love snow. The world seems quieter when it snows. Like time has stood still. Snapping on Bally’s leash, we moved outside.

Once she hit the back porch it was like she was a puppy again. She has always loved snow, loved winter. She tossed her head, snow spreading across her coat, dusting it with white. She sniffed, snorted, and pranced, moving out into the yard.

I quietly walked behind her, tears filling my eyes. Grateful that she gets to see at least this snowfall, knowing she doesn’t have many left. I don’t think I realized everything involved in owning a dog thirteen years ago. Yes, puppies are fun; dogs are enjoyable… but an older dog? There is honor in those last years. In making them the best they can be. Older dogs are filled with loyalty, history, and love. Their stories fill me up. To me, they are the best.