The hardest part of having a dog is knowing that they have shorter life spans than we do.  We all wish we could keep our dogs with us forever, and share all of life’s special milestones with them.  Thinking about the future without our dogs makes us take pause, but then the thoughts get too heavy and it’s easy to brush them off and enjoy the healthy dog we have, for however long we have them.  But what happens when the future is here?

There’s a dog who lives in my neighbourhood that is very old.  Sometimes when I pass by the dog and his owner, I smile and say hello and the owner smiles back at me with somewhat sad eyes.  She isn’t sad about her dog’s condition – clearly they enjoy their short walks through the park every day.  I realised that her eyes were saying “I know, my dog is old, can we just leave it at that?”  It upset me to think that what should be an enjoyable walk is clouded by reminders from well-meaning strangers that the end is drawing near.  So this blog post is helping me to think aloud on a pretty tough issue. Bear with me!

How can we support these dog owners without bringing them down?  It’s easy!  Celebrate the dog that’s in front of you. Sure, he may have patchy hair, wobbly legs, a lumpy body, and pearly eyes.  It can be hard to look past, but underneath it all, there’s a sweet dog who enjoys your attention and who can resist that?  If all a dog wants is love, I’m more than happy to oblige.

I’m a very curious person, and knowing what’s wrong with a person or dog helps me to feel more sympathetic towards them.  What I’ve learned is that asking hard questions in these situations doesn’t help anyone except myself.  So I don’t ask questions anymore.  I’m a sucker for those grey muzzles and quiet dispositions, so I take the time to love on the dog, maybe give him a treat (or four), and gush about how beautiful and sweet he is before continuing on my way.  It’s refreshing for the owner to not have to rehash their dog’s entire medical history with a complete stranger, and just focus on sharing their lovely dog with you.

Old and frail though our dogs may become, they will still be beautiful.  So love on them all just as if they were happy little puppies because in their hearts and minds, they still are.