Loving an Old Dog

“Old dogs, like old shoes are comfortable. They might be a bit out of shape and a little worn around the edges, but they fit well.” 

—Bonnie Wilson


Note: All the dachshunds featured on this page are available for adoption through Dachshund Rescue of Los Angeles.

I came into the house and waited. In a few minutes, our seventeen-year-old dachshund, Benny, appeared at the top of the stairs and barked a short welcome. That he was only about six feet from the gate wasn’t significant. That it took a few minutes to be greeted wasn’t important. What mattered was that we had a canine welcome. We went up the stairs, and his tail wagged slowly with expectation. John, my husband, scooped Benny into his arms, and so the ritual petting, scratching, and hugging began. And was that a very rare little dog kiss on my chin? It was just the three of us in a little circle of mutual regard. 

We put away our purchases, and then Benny let us know that it was time for his walk by ambling over to the front door and staring at it intently—waiting patiently for his humans to get with the program.  This was Benny’s favorite time of the day, next to eating. He was a dachshund, after all. The walk in the local park was typical. Benny stopped, started, ran about ten feet, greeted all his dog friends, and then headed for the building housing the public toilets and circled it twice. It was then time to go home. 

The thing about old dogs is not that they are always easy, but they are more mellow, more companionable, and I think wiser. They barely notice the delivery trucks or the mail carrier, they don’t act like they are going to tear the leg off strangers at the door, and they often wait patiently for their humans to get around to their needs.  When you relax, they relax, too, lying by your side, at your feet, or curling up in your lap. And if you take a nap, well, who could be a better companion? They are champion nappers.

It seems that as our canine companions become more patient with us, we learn to be more patient with them. When Benny started to awaken at 5:30 a.m., it was hard not to be irritable as we took turns taking him outside to toilet. But then I began to notice the delicious smell of a new day and the faint lines of peach and light blue on the horizon. Eventually, the early morning call became 4:30. After quite a lot of sighing and eye rolling, I began to hear the poorwill calling from the chaparral and see the morning star dazzling on the horizon. When Benny added being fed to this routine, I was simply grateful that all of us went back to sleep instantly. This was a celestial kindness surely.

On one of Benny’s increasingly frequent trips to the veterinarian, I had a conversation with one of the vet technicians. Laura rescues aging dogs, and her latest rescue was a dachshund. She talked about Molly, an auburn mini, with sparkling eyes and enthusiasm. In my mind, Laura is a hero. She is not afraid to love an old dog.

All of us as animal lovers have a responsibility to our aging companions. Cherish each day with your senior dogs or cats, and remember that loyalty and love are a two way street—to the end.  You will not regret it.

2 thoughts on “Loving an Old Dog

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