A year or so ago I had a moment of truth. I looked at my beloved Lenny and realized his eyebrows had turned a distinguished shade of silver grey – or had they – weren’t they always this color? After all, he is a grey dog! I rushed to find a photo of Lenny from his younger days to compare with his current features, hoping it would confirm that Lenny’s blue merle fur was not showing signs of age. I found a photo and a youthful Lenny looked out from it. No silver eyebrows there. I realized his once boldly mottled coat had become muted as time had floated by.
Lenny has always been an “old soul” – one of those dogs who seems to intuitively understand what’s going on and has an air of calmness about him. He has been my number one sidekick for almost twelve years. He showed up as a spindly, teenage stray, so thin and lithe that at first glance I thought he was a little doe, not a dog. As I look back on his adolescence, a time when many dogs are abandoned or rehomed because of unruly behavior, I remember Lenny as being near perfect. Of course, the chewed corner of my coffee table attests to a few transgressions here and there, but those are long past, and are a small price to pay for the privilege of having my now old dog.
Old dogs are treasures. Their soft eyes are windows to their gentle souls. Their graying muzzles are testaments to their success in learning how to navigate the human world. Their slower gait allows them, and us, to relax and breathe just a bit more deeply. I believe it is our greatest privilege to be able to care for old dogs in the special, senior years.
I have often said that if I win the lottery or inherit riches from a long lost relative, I would build a sanctuary for homeless, older dogs. It is a tragedy that our world is full of senior dogs who are left to complete their lives alone. So many people bypass older dogs when looking for a furry friend, yet older dogs are the most faithful, gentle, and calm. Old dogs are champions.
As I look at my beloved Lenny, his silver eyebrows remind me how quickly time flies and how precious each and every day is with my loving, loved, and loyal friend. The past is full of wonderful moments defined by more youthful zest, but today – this day with my old dog – is the best gift of all.
Postsript: Lenny died on January 13, 2011. He was with me almost 13 years. He was about 14 years old when he died. I miss him every day. I always will. Thank you, Lenny, for being my dog. See you later. I love you.
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