This post was originally written on October 4th, 2010 and as you can see from the photo below, Mandy was still pretty spry for an old gal. However, her health took a quick turn for the worse shortly after this post was written and sadly, she died less than two weeks later. Even though Mandy is no longer with us, I decided to keep the writing about her in the present tense because really, she’ll always be with us.
So, for very sentimental reasons, along with a lesson we all can learn from, this is one of my favorite posts. I hope you enjoy it.
My husband and I have found the joys of senior dog ownership. When we acquired Mandy she had been at a rescue facility for several months. I don’t think she’d ever been on a leash in her life and she had been so neglected it took months to medically prepare her for adoption. Arthritis, blown-out knees, surgery, mammary tumor, ear infections, hip mobility issues; you name it, she had it. Adopting a senior dog – especially one that was already nine years old – was a gamble for us. We walked into the foster Mom’s home and Mandy trotted right over and plopped down in my husband’s lap, looking up at him with those old-soul eyes and it was all over; she was coming with us.
Two-and-a-half-years have passed since Mandy joined our family. Almost every evening we take our dogs to the local county park for their walk. They have walked these same trails for years and yet every day they cannot wait to get there. If only I could harness that kind of excitement over exercise. They don’t see it as mundane or uninteresting; they see it as an adventure. They simply cannot wait to be outdoors experiencing life.
We used to walk over two miles every evening; now that Mandy is 11 years old, we walk a little over a mile; then she’s has quite enough. I always feel bad for Brulee who is now six but still has enough energy to generate electricity. He looks back at Mandy every once in a while as if to say, ‘Would you please get the lead out??’
We’ve been walking in this same park for nearly 4 years. We take the same trails and know exactly what to expect around every corner. It can get a little numbing at times, but the dogs act as if they are experiencing something mystical. Every evening after dinner, Mandy watches for any sign of familiar movement in one of us. Then she’s off down the stairs barking; barely able to contain herself she scrambles into the car and demands us to by God, roll down the back window already! Brulee is more laid back about the process simply following Mandy along letting her do all the directing, however he’s just as excited.
Our veterinarian told me that for goldens, along with other large breed dogs, the age of seven is considered senior status. Due to inbreeding, other health issues and unfortunately personal experience, many golden owners sadly don’t see their best friends live beyond 9 or 10. But Mandy who is now 11 1/2, refuses to let her aches and pains get the best of her. If she’s having a hard day and cannot get off the floor without a lift, once up, she is ready to go to the park for her walk. When she’s limping a little bit toward the end, she makes it clear that she is going to get the job done anyway; she may sit and rest a few times along the way but she’s determined to cross that finish line. She is a survivor.
I’ve learned a lot from Mandy. Not only about how fulfilling it can be owning a senior dog, but also that instinctively, she instinctively knows that she needs to get up and move her body every day or else the day may come when her body will no longer want or be able to move. She holds the secret to life, this white-faced dog: enjoy every morsel of food in your bowl, experience every day like it’s your last, and find excitement in the little things.
Unlike Brulee who knows countless tricks including how to whisper, (yes, click-thru – there truly is a video of it) Mandy has only ever ‘learned’ one command: sit. Yet, she is one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever known.
That was another Memory Lane post, and you know what that means: time for another giveaway and as always, it’s things that I’ve chosen because I personally use and love them.
I’ve kept journals for several years. Whether you’re having a difficult time right now or are embarking on an exciting road ahead, journaling your life will be something you’ll never regret. So, how about entering for your chance to win this beautifully illustrated journal, paired together with a box of Tazo Zen tea?
Don’t know what to write about? Let one of the many uplifting quotes inside be your inspiration. The one above says, ‘When you were born you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die the world cries and you rejoice.’ How beautiful is that?!
Rules: same as before. Leave a comment and you’re automatically entered (unless you ask me to exclude you). You have until 9 PM EST on Thursday night to enter. My lucky winner, picked from Random.org will be announced during Friday’s post. US readers only, please.
Have a good Wednesday, everyone.