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Brave Old Dogs

January 15, 2011

There’s something about old dogs that is so brave and sweet. I always let out an involuntary “Awww” when I see a white-faced dog with a hitchy gait plugging along on a leash, determined to keep up with his master.

My dear Goldie dog’s age is a mystery, since I got her at the county animal shelter, but if the paperwork they had was correct, she is now 15 years old.

It shows. Her face is completely white and her hearing is shot and she is plagued by an ever-increasing army of lumps and cysts. I think her vision is compromised, too, since she has run into things a couple times in the past month.

Her back legs are getting stiff and I sometimes see one give out a little when she is on uneven turf or on the slippery floor.

But she is brave and big-hearted and faces each day with delight and a sense of adventure, as dogs do. I took Friday off and wanted to just spend the day hanging out with her, especially since I know our time together is growing short.

I checked the tide chart and the lowest tide was at noon. We drove out to our favorite lonely beach, far away from cars and roads and people. Sometimes there are other people with dogs there, and I don’t like to let her off leash then, but Friday we got lucky and it was just her and me and a mile of smooth, perfect sand.

There was a warm breeze, blue skies, small little waves lapping over, the Channel Islands looking so clear and close. It was almost indecent, really, in the “dead of winter.” She dug some holes, hunting along the way, getting filthy dirty.

When we got to the beach, I let her off the leash for the first time in over a year. Last year I couldn’t – the sand never came back to the beach after the winter storms, so the beach was just cobbles, rocky and unrunnable.

She first raced out into the water up to her shoulders, then came out to the shallows and lay her belly on the cool wet sand for just a few seconds before she sprang off to chase seagulls. She is convinced she can catch them – and she did, once – so they race down the beach, the seagulls skimming over the breakers and Goldie with her tongue flapping out her mouth, in hot pursuit.

Almost escaped the frame

Even though she is about half as fast as she used to be, she doesn’t seem to mind. She will run as long as she has strength to run, as fast as her legs will carry her.

Sometimes Goldie stops to stand in the cold water, her sides heaving, head bobbing up and down from the effort of breathing, but as soon as she catches her breath, she is off again.

I had to wade out in the water to capture her when she was taking one of these mini-breaks, because I knew she had had enough of running, even if she didn’t realize it.

I knew I would have to wade out, so I had my pants rolled up and my water shoes on. I know my dog, and I knew she wouldn’t want to stop when there was still fun to be had.
IMG00409.jpg

Last night her shoulders were sore and she moved around on stiff legs, considering for a minute before she heaved herself up on to the couch. Yet today when walk time came, she was ready to go, waiting for me out by the gate.

What a brave, strong, wonderful girl. A blessing in my life and on my couch.
Goldie sleeping all cute-like

51 Comments
  1. January 15, 2011 21:23

    What a good, sweet girl – you made me long to have a doggy back in our lives with your description. Actually, you made me want to *be* a dog. To live so fully in the moment, with such abandon! I’m so glad you have her.

    • January 16, 2011 14:20

      I’m glad I have her, too. I never imagined loving a pet this much, but I got a great one.

  2. KAROL WOLLEN (KAZZ....WHICH WAS FOR ME, ARTHUR, ZEBBI & ZOE....SADLY ZEBBI DOG HAS NOW GONE TO DOGGIE HEAVEN) permalink
    January 16, 2011 00:08

    DEAR SB…I’VE BEEN HANGING AROUND YOUR INTERESTING BLOG LIFE FOR A WHILE NOW (OBVIOUSLY IT TAKES A DOG STORY TO GET SOME PEOPLE TO “COME OUT”)…ALL I CAN SAY IS THAT YOU ARE OBVIOUSLY CHERISHING THIS TIME & I’M SURE THE GOLDIE DOG IS TOO…MANY MORE DOG HUGS & KISSES ARE REQUIRED NOW…TRUST ME, YOU WILL NEED ALL OF THESE LOVELY MEMORIES SOMETIME IN THE FUTURE BUT I HOPE IT’S A LONG TIME BEFORE YOU HAVE TO RELY ON THEM…KAZZ

    • January 16, 2011 12:37

      Thank you. We have had a good life together.

  3. Nancy permalink
    January 16, 2011 04:50

    Aww, I love hearing about Goldie-dog.

    • January 16, 2011 14:21

      She has way more fans than I ever will.

  4. January 16, 2011 05:55

    Love.

    I know Goldie has had an awesome, happy life… but the day you come here to post that she’s had enough of this plane I am going to be a wreck. I’ll miss her and I never even met her!

    • January 16, 2011 14:21

      I try to prepare my heart, but there are some things that are just not preparable-for. (Great grammar there, Suebob.)

  5. January 16, 2011 06:24

    Ohhhh, what a sweet girl. I love dogs.

    • January 16, 2011 14:22

      Me too. Even “bad” dogs have a soft spot in my heart, because they are good deep down.

      • January 17, 2011 09:11

        I totally agree. They’re so much easier to deal with than people sometimes. They’re straightforward about their needs – just love and being treated well (and the occasional “cookie”) is all they ask.

        • January 19, 2011 19:34

          And she’s always happy to see me, something most people can’t muster LOL

  6. superdes permalink
    January 16, 2011 07:55

    Aw, I love her. This reminds me of my Midnight, who was 17 when we had to say goodbye. We bought him a doggie life jacket, because he liked to swim and swim… even if he couldn’t actually do it anymore. Just like you, we knew that we’d have to wade in and get him.
    I hope you guys have much more happy time together. 🙂

    • January 16, 2011 14:22

      Me too!

    • January 16, 2011 14:23

      I love the doggy life jacket story. Sounds like a crazy thing I would do.

  7. Cindy in Walla Walla permalink
    January 16, 2011 09:31

    Every dog deserves a Suebob.

    • January 16, 2011 14:23

      I try to be worthy of my great dog.

  8. January 16, 2011 10:25

    Oh I love Goldie-girl. Thanks for this smile today!

  9. January 16, 2011 13:27

    I adore your Goldie and your stories about her were one of the reasons I finally went ahead and got Grover. Our next dog (and S is constantly begging me as if he were a child) will definitely be a rescue! I hope you and Goldie-dog have plenty more time together!

  10. Juanita permalink
    January 16, 2011 15:42

    I heart you very much, beautiful Suebob. 🙂

  11. January 16, 2011 17:23

    And now I will bawl.

    • January 16, 2011 21:53

      I’m not trying to make anyone cry!

  12. January 16, 2011 20:37

    old dogs make me cry.

    i’m so glad you have each other!

    • January 16, 2011 21:54

      Yes, I get a little choked up, too. They are so GOOD.

  13. January 16, 2011 22:31

    I am unreasonably attached to Goldie, and this made me cry a little, bittersweet cry. I love when you share her with us.

    • January 19, 2011 19:36

      It’s funny how we share our pets with the world and they come to love them.

  14. January 17, 2011 06:34

    My old boxer has gone all white in the face too, and when one of the young guys bumps him he’ll yelp and limp around for a while. I was looking through my files for pictures to stick in my digital frame and I found some pictures from the first year I adopted him – he was around four, and his face didn’t have a hint of white except for the little spot on his nose. The one thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the mischievous gleam in his eye and his love of everyone. He’s a young man in an old body.

    Goldie is such a sweet, lovely dog. I love how you write about her and I love how devoted you are to making her life a good one. I ‘ve volunteered in dog rescue as a foster home for years now, and I only wish that every dog that leaves me would get someone who would love them as much as you do your Goldie.

    • January 19, 2011 19:35

      You have your own spot in heaven for fostering dogs!

  15. Carrie (in MN) permalink
    January 17, 2011 08:45

    Sweet puppy! I’m a huuuge dog lover and look forward to your Goldie stories. You can give her aspirin, I think, for her sore muscles and bones. My pup would love to run on the ocean beach – unfortunately for him, he’s limited to lake beaches. He too will play in the water until he’s exhausted and he once played until his paws were tender and sore (I learned my lesson that time). Anyway, thanks for sharing.

    • January 19, 2011 19:34

      Yeah, I slip her an aspirin in a piece of cheese if she is too achey.

  16. January 17, 2011 11:24

    Sweet Goldie!

  17. January 18, 2011 12:55

    This was a good antidote to the post I just read about a family whose beloved 4 year old lab just passed. Still made me cry but good antidote. I do love me some Goldie pictures. She is brilliant.

    • January 19, 2011 19:33

      That is so sad and hard. I know I’ll take Goldie’s death hard, but losing such a young dog is its own form of hurt.

  18. lizgwiz permalink
    January 18, 2011 14:56

    The minute I read your first sentence I knew exactly what you meant. It made me both smiley and teary all at once.

    • January 19, 2011 19:32

      I’m a sucka for the old doggies.

  19. January 18, 2011 20:54

    Oh I love old dog stories and how happy they are, just to be outside, smelling the air, living in the moment the way dogs do. You are lucky to have each other and that beautiful beach.

    My cat Maceo is also of indeterminate age, a shelter boy. He too has lumps and cysts and sighs an old man’s sigh when heaving himself up to the couch. Cats don’t take that manic happy delight in the outdoors but there’s also joy to watching an old cat, on his back, rolling side to side in the simple glory that is the morning sun patch as it moves across the room.

    • January 19, 2011 19:32

      We had a cat that lived to 17, Tinkerbell. When he was older, he looked like a stuffed animal that had been loved too much – that messy, worn-out looking fur – but he had a great long life.

  20. Julie permalink
    January 19, 2011 11:00

    The older dogs in our lives (including a 13 y/o golden retriever also with many lumps and cysts) take Rimadyl daily and it makes a huge difference in the stiffness and mobility. I am not a big advocate of drugs in general unless absolutely necessary; it seems to improve their lives substantially.

    • January 19, 2011 19:31

      I’ll look into it if it comes to a time when she is in pain.

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