Who says old dogs can’t be taught?
We have an old girl. Barb rescues “Doodles” (a dog breed of just about anything crossed with a poodle). They are beautiful, sweet creatures. She has gotten them from some pretty horrible conditions, including one where the owner was charged with animal abuse. We currently have five at the house; the old girl was the most recent addition.
She has a name, “Honey Bunny,” but goes by just about anything you want to call her. She’s totally deaf, mostly blind and reaching her expiration date. Her situation was sad. The older gentleman that owned her passed away and no one was available to take her. She is 15 and has a bad ear tumor, not a great candidate for re-homing. So she became ours.
She was a mess. Her hair was matted, the ear was putrid. But she had spunk. For months Barb ministered to her, but the ear got worse until finally we felt it might be “time.” She had not been a candidate for surgery according to the vet. Barb decided to give it another try and they agreed to operate. It was either that or euthanasia.
She is back home now. As our neighbor kids said, “She seems more ‘springy’ than usual.” It is both a challenge and a joy to take her out. She bounces and (sortta) runs around with the other dogs. Full of life. However, you have to make constant eye contact. Once she wanders off, you have to chase her down and get in front of her to get her attention and wave her home. Or, she just rambles around our property until she makes it home.
I am so thankful we didn’t have to put her to sleep.
This story, while trivial, has great meaning to me. She’s not as spry as the other dogs, nor is she as engaging, floating around in her own little world. But she is an inspiration.
Life can be a pretty brutal affair. My life, in contrast to those in much of the world (war torn or poverty-stricken countries), is pretty good. But no matter your conditions, life eventually catches up. Things break down as you get older. Health issues arise. You are not as “springy” as you used to be and get less so all of the time. Even if you try to stay active, your body will simply start to revolt. It is easy to fall backwards both physically and mentally.
We humans have grown used to the “good life.” When things get tough all too often we lose our fight. And, it is not the heroic last stand to which I refe; It is also the simple acceptance of where we are and making the best of whatever situation we have.
We can come to the point where not only is the glass half empty, it is draining away. Or so we think. Ultimately, we see only the challenges and shortcomings of life. The “good” simply disappears in the clutter.
And then I think of that old girl. Her life was not very pleasant. Much of the joys were restricted for her. No sounds, vague images, a bandage strapped to her ear, in needed constant attention. She never whined or pulled away. She could sleep through anything (you had to physically wake her). But once awake, she is happy. She loves a head-scratch or a passing caress. She loves to go out. She seems content with her world and the limited pleasures she gets. That is inspirational.
Life is full of wonder, the things a child sees but we overlook. Simple things, the touch of a loved-one or the kind word of a friend, can bring more joy than all the money you can’t take with you.
I look to that sweet girl and want her to be with us. She is just so grateful for whatever little pleasure she gets, even if it is just the opportunity to bounce around in the sun for a few minutes. I really want to be like her as I grow old.