Getting old is a bitch.
Your muscles atrophy.
Your hair goes gray.
Your get up and go, got up and went and left you tired and weary.
Your joints are achy and misaligned.
Your eyesight and hearing are failing.
And if that isn’t enough, your bladder loses it’s capacity to retain. Maybe it isn’t bladder failure, maybe your kegel stopped working. Either way, incontinence has come to stay.
No, I’m not referring to me! Thanks a lot for that assumption.
I’m talking about our good old dog who, at 14 years old, is on the downward slope of old age. The vet called it, “in his advanced years”. Fourteen in dog years is 91 years old. He looks old, he acts old, the poor old boy is old.
On Christmas Day is when his bladder started playing tricks. We thought it was the excitement of the morning but a couple of additional accidents prove that theory wrong. With heightened awareness, we’re changing our schedules to meet his increased need for outside potty time, making sure we’re not leaving him alone for long periods of time and taking care of our old friend.
Here is a picture of him at our first Christmas surrounded by his gifts. His coat so black and shiny, his eyes so crisp and clear.
Now, his black hair is turning white and gray, the shine replaced by dullness, his eyes rummy and tired. I did wake him to take this picture tonight, he wasn’t happy.
This old boy of ours has had a good life. My daughter and I double-teamed my husband and told him we were getting a dog. He said “No, we live in a condo and we are not getting a little dog.” We were determined, our like minds were set. While dove hunting on our friend’s farm in Blythe, my husband came back to the farmhouse to tell us that he “met a dog.” The way he said “I met a dog” was so heartfelt you would think he said “I met the woman of my dreams.” He was smitten. The dog was a stray picked up by our friend’s friend and was just kept until someone claimed him or he ran away. Blythe is in the middle of the desert and is often a freeway drop for unwanted dogs. Dogs also turn up missing there from hunting expeditions where the dog gets spooked and run. Our dog is definitely gun-shy so we think this is the case.
We went to the women’s house to meet the dog. The dog was super excited and happy to see us. My daughter, then age 5, walked up to the dog and told him to sit. He sat. She smiled. He then automatically offered his paw to shake, but instead of extending his paw straight out, he swung his arm around as if to high-five her and ended up scratching her arm from shoulder to wrist. She cried.
My husband said, “That’s it, this dog is too big for you, we’re done.” She wiped away her tears, stomped her foot and said, “No, I want this dog, I love him.” Look who won.
The dog was riddled with ticks and fleas. We got that immediately under control, took him to the vet to learn he was just five or six months old and had a lot of growing left to do. We kennel trained him and loved him as any family could love their newest addition. He had been named “Dale” after Dale Earnhardt Jr. and responded to the name so we kept it, adding Anthony as his middle name. Dale Anthony was our dog.
When we first got him, we lived in a condo at Placentia Lakes. He quickly learned to open the screen door with his paw to bound through the shallow water to chase the resident ducks. The HOA loved us. We then moved to Parks Arizona where, before we put up the fence, and even a lot of times afterward, he roamed for miles, chasing elk and deer and catching jack rabbits and digging up moles. Dale did his fair share of visiting the neighbors too getting into his fair share of trouble too. In Parks he also had run-ins with skunks and a couple of porcupines just to keep him in check. Back in Placentia, his life mellowed to scaring a mail lady just by his girth so she refused to deliver mail to our door, we had to get a post office box. He travelled with us everywhere, or stayed with Grandma in San Pedro. His favorite trips were to any river or lake where he could just lie in the cool water. His favorite game was catch, but not return the ball, having too much fun playing keep away.
Now in Spokane, his greatest nemesis is the stairs just to get in and out of the house. We have a ramp to lessen his effort in the backyard but he’s a front yard kind of guy. He likes to hang out and watch the world go by. He is visited by the young and rambunctious neighbor dogs and occasionally will muster up a gallop around the yard. He carries around his stuffed pig or hedgehog and sleeps with them most days. There are a lot of stories of his antics in between and he’s made a lot of friends along the way.
Our lives have never been the same since he came into our lives and they won’t be the same when he’s gone. For now, we’re just taking care of this good old boy and loving him for each day we have with him.