I’ve enjoyed the companionship of dogs throughout my life. Most have lived to at least ten, some to be twelve, and Cody, our cocker spaniel who passed in January, was more than seventeen. Cody was deaf and couldn’t see very well during those final months, but one thing he possessed, nearly to the end, was spirit. He was loyal to his people and to his animal friends. That’s a great lesson to learn from an old dog: loyalty.
Sage, the sweet, blind springer spaniel my husband and I adopted in 2001, shared our home and hearts for more than 11 years, living to be 12 ½ years of age. She endured several eye surgeries prior to becoming completely blind due to Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). Yet, through it all, she showcased courage and perseverance. Her entire life reflected those traits, as well as kindness, friendship, and compassion.
There’s a lot we can learn from an old dog. Here are a few things:
October is National Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month, and November bring National Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month. Bring those two together and in October consider adding a senior dog to your household. Just as we can learn from the wisdom of older people, we can also learn from elderly animals – if only we’d open our hearts to what these wonderful creatures can teach us.
There is a wonderful story from last year about a man who adopted an eight-week-old puppy and kept the dog all of his life. Then, as the dog’s quality of life dwindled, the man didn’t abandon the old dog or stick it in a shelter, as many people do; instead, the man took his dog on a trip of a lifetime, like having “a bucket list,” visiting places he wanted to share with his dog. Read the wonderful, heart-warming story and see the moving photos at http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/york-man-takes-dying-dog-bucket-list-adventure/story?id=31338158
Another such heart-warming pet-human adventure story came this past summer: http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/13/health/dog-last-trip-trnd/
These stories showcases devotion, love, compassion, and joy. May we find beauty in life around us, in nature, in people, in ourselves, and in our companion animals – no matter what their age.
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.