I have been walking dogs as a job for the last twelve years. Many of my canine friends are in their “Golden Years” or have left this earth due to their older ages or illness. This is truly the hardest part of my job as I love them all like my own. I have experienced five of my client’s dogs pass on in the last year alone. This has given me a lot to think and write about.
I have come to realize senior dogs – including our twelve and a half-year old yellow lab Abby – have gifts they share with us and are great teachers!
I drink in so much more on a walk with an aging dog with the environment around me. My mind becomes at ease and more receptive to the moment I am in, and not my list of things to do etc…
I walk a sweet Golden Retriever named Jenna. Upon entering her house I automatically find her sleeping, a sign of her age. She is hard of hearing so I start off gently calling her name, gradually getting louder so as not to startle her. She always wakes up happy and delighted to see me as she makes her way over. Being an older gal she skips stretching upon getting up and has a gentle but slower gait.
I always let her guide me down their front steps, her perk being a senior! She has not lost her ability to smell – if anything it has become intensified! Jenna loves the mailman and wishes every person a greeting on the sidewalk. What I love is the constant stream of strangers that take the time to notice and pat her as her age is evident.
When we walk I take in my surroundings as we are moving at a slower pace! For example, the flower bulbs poking up in February, the birds singing in our Sprinter weather, and planes flying overhead. We see some regular neighbors of hers who enjoy their street mascot. Something earned with age!
Traffic is automatically calmed as cars have to wait longer at a stop sign, no chance of speeding through when we are crossing! Jenna has complete strangers in their cars smiling or waving for us to cross seeing her senior status. If I could have a dollar for every time this happens!
I find Senior dogs bring out the softer side of people. They reminisce about a beloved dog they once had or how much they are missed still. They remind us to treasure each and every day with family and friends as nothing is a given.
Patience is the biggest gift I have learned with my older pooches. I have to assist them getting in or out of my car sometimes, which reminds me to slow down in today’s rushed world. I have to allow for extra time for their needs instead of thinking of my own. They are very similar to us with their graying fur, aches and pains, and their desire to be loved.
I think about my senior parents, family and friends and my Golden years down the road. My older daughter mentioned to me when she saw tears from me after a dog had died that I had walked for many years, “Don’t worry Mum, you will have quite a big group running to see you in heaven.” A great thought indeed.
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