Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The last old dog in the neighborhood....

I have a really hard time believing that LEO will be turning 9 years old in just two weeks.

Time has flown by so much since we got him from New England Basset Rescue, 8 years ago this Thanksgiving!  I can’t think of a more appropriate time to have gotten him because he has given me a million reasons to be thankful over the years! Despite the fact that it’s a lot of work to have a dog with special needs, it’s worth every minute of it because he gives it back to me tenfold in Basset Love!  

Yesterday, I ran into my neighbor who was outside playing with her brand new adorable Lhasa Apso puppy. As soon as I saw the new puppy, I figured out pretty quickly what that meant. I was afraid to ask but of course when I did, I found out that her beloved dog, Dunkin had passed away. She told me, she had to make the devastating decision to put him to sleep this past summer.  He was only 9 and he was the third dog in our neighborhood to pass away recently. I have a pit in my stomach as I write this because all three of these dogs were just 9. This is crushing. 9 is so young, even though it’s 67 in human years, it’s still young in my opinion. It's so unfair that dogs can't live as long as humans, isn't it?  I guess it wouldn’t matter much because even if Leo lived to be 100, it still wouldn’t be enough time for me!

My neighbor and I talked about all of the new puppies on the block and she brought it to my attention that out of all the old dogs in the neighborhood, LEO was the last dog still living. This broke my heart. It only served as a painful reminder that he is beginning to wind down now and approaching the last leg of his journey. I am optimistic by nature and I always tell my kids that he will far surpass the average life span of a Basset Hound which is 10-12 years old.  God knows, LEO of all Bassets is anything but average! If strength and longevity could be derived from love and love alone, he would surely live forever!

I have noticed so many changes in LEO as he nears his 9th birthday. Some of the changes are good, and some are bad, but all point to the obvious fact that he is aging. We can now open up the front door and not panic that he will bolt. He no longer runs away. He can’t be bothered. He really puts off going up the stairs to bed as long as he can. It’s easy to see that the stairs are becoming a struggle for him. Last night he stopped half way up and rested. He has never done this before. He also doesn’t jump up into bed with me as fast as he used to. All I would have to do in the past is pat my hand on the bed, and he was there in a flash. Now, he waits until I coax him up two or three times and then he will jump. He’s doing a lot more moaning and groaning lately. He has always loved to nap, but it seems that he is napping more than ever now. He's really slowed down his game when it comes to harassing our cats. He actually gives them some personal space now! His precious face is almost all covered in white these days. Yet,he remains the most adorable Basset of all time and I actually love the white! He looks distinguished.

Thankfully, he still jumps up on the couch and cuddles with me every morning as I have my coffee.  He is still the first one to greet me with a big happy grin and a wagging tail when I walk in the door from work! Even though, I feel a bit sad that his 9th birthday is approaching, I also feel blessed and grateful.  I have decided that his 9th birthday is something to celebrate not  to mourn.  I vow to take a little extra time each day to appreciate all the sweet joy he brings to my life. Although he gets a million hugs and kisses from me on a daily basis, he will get even more. He will have more treats, more homemade dog food, extra walks, cuddles and lots of extra belly rubs. I have always appreciated what a gift he is, even in the most trying times, but for this last leg of his beautiful journey here with us, I am going to really make it as memorable and special as I can!

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