Connor is fast asleep on his bed near my feet as I write this. He's sleeping a lot more lately than he used to. He doesn't move as quickly or as sure-footed anymore. But when it comes to playing soccer with me in the field below the house...he's still got it...but he tires quickly. When he walks away from the ball, I know he'll soon be headed up to the house to lie by the door until I come and pick him up to carry him inside. We go to the tub to clean him up and while I'm having my shower he goes to his bed and sinks into a deep, deep sleep.
When we live with other people, we don't age relative to each other as quickly, or at least we don't notice it until we suddenly come to realize that the face in the mirror looks just like your parent. And just to confirm that it isn't an unfortunate mistake...you look down and see your mother's or your father's legs and feet sticking out of your pants!
Well, as disconcerting as that is, we have time to get used to it, or get over it...or not. But when your dog begins to age, it happens at an accelerated rate and within a month or two, they don't wag their tails as much, or their ears don't perk up and their eyes lose their brightness.
Solli died before her time after a long illness and, while losing her was difficult, we knew that her death released her from the grip of her disease. Connor has had health problems since he was a puppy, but he's fought his way through it for years.
Connor's eyes have lost the bright clarity that they once had, and his hearing has all but left him. But he doesn't complain.
Illness and disease can be fought, treated and recovered from...but age will not be held off.
My friend is getting older faster than I am and I've come to the conclusion that I'm going to need therapy to get through this.
A friend, after listening to my story sent me the following bit of prose....
A Dog's Prayer
Treat me kindly, my beloved master, for no heart in the entire world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me. Do not break my spirit with a stick, for though I should lick your hand between the blows, your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me the things you would have me do.
Speak to me often, for your voice is the world's sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when your footstep falls upon my waiting ear.
When it is cold and wet, please take me inside... for I am now a domesticated animal, no longer used to bitter elements... and I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet beside the hearth... though had you no home, I would rather follow you through ice and snow than rest upon the softest pillow in the warmest home in all the land... for you are my god... and I am your devoted worshiper.
Keep my pan filled with fresh water, for although I should not reproach you were it dry, I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst. Feed me clean food, that I may stay well, to romp and play and do your bidding, to walk by your side, and stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life, should your life be in danger.
And, beloved master, should the Great Master see fit to deprive me of my health or sight, do not turn me away from you. Rather hold me gently in your arms as skilled hands grant me the merciful boon of eternal rest...and I will leave you knowing with the last breath I drew, my fate was ever safest in your hands. --Beth Norman Harris
I reach out and stroke his silky ears as he sleeps at my feet.