One of the closest relationships I know is the relationship that my older sister, Janet, has with her dog, Piper. Piper has been around a long time and the day where she’s going to die is coming soon. I decided I’d interview Janet about her story with the puppy and write a blog post about it in honor of their 14 year friendship. Here are her remarks:
Piper and I are more than old friends; we’re family. We’ve been together for 14 years, ever since she was a wobbly little thing who could hardly walk without falling over. In a way, we’ve almost come full circle. She’s not so little anymore, but she does get wobbly now and then because she’s an old dog with a heart condition.
I’ve learned that dogs are a lot like people; when they get old and ill, they tend to slow down. However, also like a lot of people, Piper tries to do the same things she always did. She just takes longer getting them done. When I come back home, even if I’ve been gone just a short time, she’s always there to greet me. It just might take a few more minutes to get to the door. Or if there’s some unfamiliar noise out in the backyard, she wiggles all over to get out and discover what’s going on. That hasn’t changed in 14 years.
Perhaps the greatest lesson I’ve learned from Piper, is what unconditional love looks like. I laugh when I think that one of the strongest examples of a human ideal is found in my puppy. However, the way that Piper consistently jumps up and runs to the door when I come home teaches me how I should feel when my husband comes home. The way that her face expresses gratitude for the basic food that we give her or the cuddling on the couch that she gets away with teaches me to live life in the spirit of gratitude for everything that I have, even the simple things. I don’t think that I’ll ever be able to explain what it is about Piper, but she really has a light to her that influences me in a beautiful way.
Besides slowing down like Piper, some dogs experience a hearing loss when they get older. They may become easily startled if you walk up behind them. There aren’t any hearing aids for old dogs. We had a vet look at her to make sure there isn’t an infection or growth in the ear because that was the most we could do to help that problem out. We’ve been cautious to not let Piper outside without close supervision because she won’t be able to hear passing cars. It drives me crazy when the boys leave the front door open!
Slowly, her joints are giving way to arthritis. It’s quite common in the large breeds and mostly affects the legs. We stopped by our vet, the Hamilton Road Animal Hospital, and bought meds for doggie arthritis which has made a big difference for Piper.
Piper’s face is mixed with gray fur, much like the gray hair of a grand parent. But I like to think that life with an old Piper in many ways hasn’t changed much from when she was young. I hope we still have a long time together. Life with an old dog may be slower and more relaxed and maybe even a little more worrisome, but it’s still wonderful and worth it, and it’s family.
I thought this was pretty touching to hear her account of her dog. I almost want to get my own dog, perhaps when we get a bigger back yard.
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Today is National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day. So many loving animals are available for adoption. Animals that can bring a smile to your face, and be there to greet you every day when you come home. Our own Mollyanna is a joy and – just as with my children – I cannot imagine life without her being a part of it.
If you are looking for a pet to bring to the forever home you can offer them … please check with your local humane society or animal shelter. There are plenty of animals that would be a perfect fit for your family. Thank you.