Diego is 13 years, 10 months, 3 weeks, and 5 days old today. It’s not a milestone birthday – heck it’s not even a day that marks a new year and that’s ok because every day with him is worth celebrating. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not declining rapidly nor is he getting any better – he is just being, and therefore so are we.
We never expected to have him this long. He’s a large purebred lab and many like him don’t make it into their teens. Add to that his history or foreign body ingestion (also known as eating weird things that can kill him), his delicate constitution (a fancy way of saying surprise diarrhea), and the massive benign tumour that was removed from his belly almost two years ago and it’s an absolute miracle he is still here.
If you have (or had) a really old dog you know the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with that. In the last couple years we’ve had multiple moments where we have been brought to tears thinking that he was in his final days, only to see him look years younger the very next day. So, we’ve decided to no longer spend our energy fearing the day we say goodbye, speculating on how long he has, or focusing on the things he can no longer do – instead we try to focus on his resiliency, and zest for life – there is still a lot of that to be found…
- He sleeps much more than he used to – but he also runs in his sleep like he’s chasing the fastest backyard bear ever. He never catches him but we know he’d kick its ass if he did.
- He is stiff and quite arthritic- but he still does his dance of pure joy before each meal as if it was his first one even though he’s actually had over 10,000.
- His hearing isn’t very good – but somehow he still knows when the restaurant delivery service has quietly left dinner on our doorstep.
- He can’t do the stairs anymore – but boy does he smirk when my husband gasps for air as he carries all 80 lbs of him up and down them.
- He almost always smells like really bad farts – but they are weirdly comforting because we know we will miss even that one day.
- He doesn’t rough house anymore with our younger dog – but he has found a new way to play that involves lying on his bed and chewing on her head.
- He’s not as comfortable being alone as once was – but now he’s always nearby and willing to cuddle.
- He no longer gets up to greet me in the morning – but I sure love the way he looks up at me when I say “Good morning! Yay, you’re still here!”
Someone once said “My old dog does this amazing thing where he just exists and makes my whole life better because of it”. Very wise words indeed.