Wednesday, May 14, 2014


         Gracie at 4 months old                                                     Gracie at (almost) 11 years old

You're digging through a drawer and you spot it--or your sister emails it to you--or you open an old book and it slips to the floor. 

A photo of your dog from a much earlier time.

I don't know if this makes me an oddball, but my reaction is unwaveringly consistent: I get punched with the big Double-Oh

First, I see the sweet photo of my dog in her youth, and my whole body curves in on itself as my face crinkles up in a high-pitched Ohhhhhh... I'm washed in not just the memories--but the feelings--of her bouncier days and silly puppy choices.

And then, before I can finish pronouncing all of those Hs, my brain yanks me hard into Oh Number Two. This Ohhhhhh (octaves lower) is the reflexive moan from the cosmic ice cream scoop scraping along my insides, emptying me of everything but the sense of loss and impending grief that's been trying to get my attention for years, as I've watched her face get whiter and her steps grow slower. 

Rose at 2 years old                                                     Rose at (almost) 11 years old

When the Ohhhhhhs finally release me, I'm back to where I was, freshly reminded to squeeze in more snout-kissing and stick-throwing today, because it's better for my soul than the project I'm trying to finish for work. 

I'm doing my best to remember that there is joy in a dog's aging, too. I look into the eyes of both of our girls in their earlier photos, and compare them to their eyes now, and see that they've traded their puppyish view of the world for a greater wisdom. 

They've had enough experience to know that falling asleep in your water dish can lead to rude awakenings and should be avoided.

They've lived long enough to realize that when you look out the kitchen window and see a squirrel at the bird feeder... once you're let out the front door, you've got to run all the way around the house to get back to where the squirrel is. (Was.) 

And they've figured out that plowing through the woods without worrying where you put your feet can lead to very painful outcomes, and it's best not to do that.

I'm trying to remind myself that though the span of time I have with these creatures feels way too short--this is my dog's whole history. So it's a noble effort to avoid wallowing in my own sorrow, and spend those brain cells making it a rich history, for whatever time I am granted. (See: stick-throwing / snout-kissing, above.)

And P.S.--I need to get better at accepting the things I cannot change.

In the spirit of enriching history... I think I'll try to do one thing in the next 24 hours that improves the day of an older person in my life.


  1. Her eyes are still bright! That's a good sign!
    I know what you are feeling!

  2. What a precious dog! I agree! Her eyes still are bright! So glad to meet you!

  3. This one really hits home for me, having had to say goodbye to Fiver just last month. I could never get mad at him because I knew that someday I’d wish he were here to dig another hole under the flowering almond. At the time, I didn’t realize that our first walk after the winter sidewalks had cleared enough for his weary hips to navigate would actually be our last. That final walk was a gift, as is every moment we’re privileged to have with them. There’s a passage in Watership Down that says for a wild creature, life is now. Go throw the stick, and give the girls a kiss on the snout for me, too.


Be engaged, but be nice.