Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Good Dog Is Your Constant Companion

On our walk around the pond the other day, we ran into the lady who daily walks three large dogs -- one a greyhound, one a black lab, one unidentified by me (I'll have to ask her one day). Anyway, she asked (in a diplomatic way) about Sadie getting up in years, no doubt noticing her graying face and conspicuous limp. Yes, I replied, Sadie (a golden retriever/yellow lab mix) is 12 years old.

Her point was how good walking is for our dogs. Yes, Sadie still relishes her daily walk. We haven't missed many days over the years. A no-walk day usually occurs only if one or the other of us is on the disabled list.

This morning, after a walk, I took Sadie to the vet's for a bath, brushing, and nail-clipping. Those are the makings of a spa treatment, and the young attendants there pamper her royally. But of course she didn't know that was what was in store for her. Until I left, at least, she bawled like a baby, probably conjuring visions of long needles or being boarded there for a couple of nights (as has happened only a few times in her life).

The funny thing is how I miss her even when she's just at the doggie spa for a few hours. She usually is curled up nearby while I am writing on the computer, and if she thinks I have been pecking away too long, she will bark at me until I sign off and play with her. And that is no doubt a good thing, because my bionic knee needs to flex regularly, as opposed to ossifying at a computer. When I go out to fill the bird feeders, Sadie goes out, too. She is my constant companion.

That makes it tougher to think of the age issue that the three-dog lady raised. I shouldn't have done it, but I googled the life expectancy of yellow labs and golden retrievers. In each case, it is about a dozen years. That seems so short for such absolutely wonderful breeds. But of course, it is an average (or the median, not sure which) -- and while some die early because of maladies to which these breeds are susceptible, others live several years longer than 12. And since Sadie is half-lab, half-retriever, shouldn't I be able to add 12 and 12 and get 24 years for her? I wish!

Anyway the walking is helping both of us, and we feed her Science Diet, a premium dog food. As I have written before, Sadie and I have gone through much together -- my heart and knee surgeries, her serious hip dislocation in a car accident -- and we've taken the lickin' and kept on tickin'. The best thing is for both of us to embrace each day to the fullest, breathe in the sea breezes, sniff the flowers, watch the birds, and keep on moving.

This is my all-time favorite photo of Sadie, taken on the morning of a rare snowstorm at Myrtle Beach

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