An Old Dog

By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

Yes We Can

I have a 18-year old dog. There’s a lot of work that comes with that, especially with an animal that came from abuse.

“Sophie” was a rescue from 2008. She was four year old at the time. When we got her, were told “the sun was setting on her time” because of an illness she had. I think back on that phrase from time to time, mostly connecting it to Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” song. If Elton had started singing that song for her back then, the poor fellow would be positively hoarse right now.

Sophie is blind and senile, with a slightly hunched back and a propensity to pace back and forth on the hardwood floor. We tend to call her “Old Crab” because of her slow gait and tendency to grumble about things she’d rather not do. She’s also earned the name “Pinball” due to her tendency to bump into every conceivable object in the house. It’s hard to imagine what goes on in her mind, or if she’s really thinking about much of anything these days. She does perk up for food, however. And she does have a penchant for power napping.

It won’t be much longer before she hits 19. We’re holding out to see if she hits 20. She’s in decent health, all things considered. I think if any dog could pull it off, she could. She’s certainly stubborn enough.

All of my dogs are considered “seniors” now. Little white faces are starting to form on all of them. Being the oldest, Sophie is the least active of the group. More content to lay on pillows than walk down the street.

I still remember when we got her. It was shortly after Dad passed. We had gotten her from a cairn terrier rescue. We knew she had a history of mistreatment and neglect from her previous owner, though we never got the full story. Considering the struggles we had the first few years, it’s perhaps best we don’t know.

It took years for her to trust the Missus and myself, and even now she’s something of a solitary dog that seems to accept her life with us, a life of treats and soft beds and blankets, isn’t so entirely bad.

She’s also a well-traveled dog. She climbed through the mountains in Las Vegas, visited the beaches of Florida, and last month, she snuffled through the forests of Arkansas. She’s lived through a cross-country move, a pandemic, two huge snowstorms, and three presidents.

I’ve often heard that dogs “live in the now,” reflecting more about the moment than long-term. When I see her looking about outside, her blue-grey eyes seeming to focus on nothing at all, I wonder if she’s ever been introspective about the life she’s led. Certainly the last 14 years have had to diminish the feelings of those first four.

Welcoming rescue dogs into my home has changed my perspective about how dogs see the world, and by association, they’ve changed my views. They enjoy simple pleasure such as food and naps. Many of their worst stresses, such as “what noise just happened outside,” seem trivial, yet enviable some days. And for a blind, senile old dog, there has to be some comfort in knowing that in a grey and confusing world, no one will ever raise a hand to her again.

Watching that crabby old pinball shuffle about is a remarkable familiarity in my world. Sometimes, when the mood strikes her, she’ll wander over for a neck and ear rub and the occasional “Good old girl.”

Hopefully for her, I’d like to think these little moments are a sign we’ve made a difference.

Sophie, and the life that comes with old and age and trusting others.

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Categories: Opinion