by Tina Deines
When I was young, I was beautiful. I used to get looks from everyone around. They called me a “handsome dog.” They said I had a “great physique” and that I was in my prime. I could hike with you for hours and then come home and play some more.
It’s been a few years since then. I’ve seen the seasons come and go. I’ve walked hundreds of miles with you, my owner, the center of my world.
We’ve had some great times, but I’m a little beaten up these days. I’ve inherited some new moles and skin tags. My once shiny fur is duller and gray around the muzzle, and you found a new lump on my leg last week (I forgive you for taking me to the vet in panic).
I might even be getting a little fat. Sorry about that—my metabolism is slowing down, just like it does with older folks.
I’m not so fast anymore. We can’t walk as far as we used to and I have to take longer breaks when we play fetch. Sometimes I have a hard time getting up and occasionally I even poop on the floor because I can’t make it outside.
Sometimes I stare at walls. Sometimes I don’t see them at all and run into them. And sometimes I can’t even see you, but I can smell you around somewhere.
But here’s the thing. I still love you, my human. Do you still love me too?
Will you still play with me even though I’m not a cute puppy anymore? Will you post pictures of me on Facebook because you still think I’m that same handsome dog, skin tags and all? Will you give me a good scratch on the neck like you did when I was younger?
Hey, I get it if you have to put me on that senior food, but will you still slip me a treat once in a while and tell me I’m a “good dog?” I love it when you call me that.
In return, I promise I’ll patiently wait for you to come home from work every day (and lick you like crazy when you walk through the door). I’ll rest my head on your lap when you’re feeling sad. I’ll listen to you complain about your boss, or your mother, or your husband, or anyone, really. I’ll still protect you from the post man, too, even if I have to limp to the door to do it.
I still love you, my human. Do you still love me too?
Tina is an Albuquerque-based writer specializing in dogs, wildlife and conservation. She loves hiking with her dogs Daisy and Rosie throughout New Mexico and beyond, and participates in canine agility with them. Daisy is addicted to tennis balls and Rosie responds to commands in three languages: English, Spanish and German. Tina blogs about dogs and wildlife at tinadeines.com/blog.