I’ve never had a dog get old on me. As a kid, a couple were put down for health reasons and I left home before another one got old, but until Tucker – I’ve never had to care for a senior canine. He’s nearly 13, has wicked hip issues and uses one of his rear legs like an old man uses a cane. But he’s happy. Last fall, when his hips stopped working and he lost muscle mass, I thought it was the end. The vet gave him six months. Well, it’s been more than six months now and he’s still smiling. Sure, I help him up or down the back steps, but mostly, he manages. Slowly. One step at a time. This from a dog that was once the stud of the beach.
What struck me today about how different it is with an old canine is the way I brush him. It wasn’t very long ago that brushing him meant wrestling a strong, squirmy dog excited about getting to go in the house to lay on the sofa. These days, he’s just as excited to go in to lay on the sofa, but the brushing has taken a docile turn. Where at one point when I’d thrash his fur and feel his muscles flex underneath, now I feel bone below his coat and my strokes are as gentle as how you might brush your grandparent’s hair.
Tucker goes for his annual exam next week. Last year I was inquiring about final arrangements. He keeps surprising me.