(Revised October 14, 2020)
Tempus fugit. Time flies. The sweet dog we rescued as a senior is now advanced-senior. Ellie still pleads at some point every day for a walk, but then she hesitates at the door as though asking herself, "Do I really want to do this? Am I up for it?" She pants heavily before we take the first step. And if she takes care of her business within just a few blocks, she often turns us around and wants to head home instead of walking a few miles.
These days, Ellie also frequently passes on breakfast, which is something she never used to do. She is hungry by suppertime, though, so that's good. She can no longer jump on the bed, and she can get onto a sofa only with much difficulty and sometimes after failed leaps.
So a lot has changed. She's not just losing a step; she's losing three. I adopted her as a senior dawg so I knew this time was coming. Still, it's hard. The joy is still there when she manages to lie down on a corner of the sofa next to my recliner and snuggle with me and slumber while I gently pat her head. Ellie is another in a long line of dear sweet family dogs who have done so much to keep me active while boosting my morale. I hope that after this summer of miserable humidity we both can perk up and enjoy our walks once again.
Time does indeed fly, and sometimes it is hard to keep track of your faithful companion's age. When Ellie was up for adoption, the rescue people labeled her as 7 years old. I think they estimated on the low side in the interest of landing her a forever home. (Wouldn't blame them if they did.) Family and friends said her graying indicated she was closer to 8 or 9. Doing the math, she could be close to 13 or 14 years old now, exceeding the average life expectancy of a retriever. The family lost dear Dasher, a yellow lab, earlier this year to cancer before he reached his 10th birthday.
On the positive side, Ellie still shows her zest for life -- her joie de vivre as the French would say. Even if she doesn't wind up walking very far, she still usually wants to go out the door and walk. She remains my faithful assistant in walking me through the ups and downs of seniorhood. In appreciation of that, I wrote an essay about our journeys for a contest sponsored by the Petco Foundation for the benefit of animal rescue organizations around the country. (All 4 Paws in Pawleys Island, S.C. is the wonderful organization that connected us to Ellie.) Winning essays snag much-needed money for their local rescues. Given that some 10,000 essays are usually entered, it is a long shot that mine (entitled "How My Rescue Dog Walked My Senior Sadness Away") will win. In any event, I would like to post my piece here by the turn of 2021. Petco announces the winners during blessed Christmastide.© Robert G. Holland 2020