I’ve always loved Tom T. Hall’s song lyrics: “Ain’t but three things in this world that’s worth a solitary dime But old dogs and children and watermelon wine.” I’ve never tried watermelon wine, I like kids, but I love old dogs. There’s something about their calm, trusting gentleness that tugs at my heart.
My dog, Jazz is a twelve-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer. That’s eighty-nine in human years. Her eyebrows have turned gray, her face grizzled and her eyes cloudy. Her once svelte, leanly muscled body has sagged, her back legs bowed from arthritis. She used to be filled to the brim with frenetic energy and needed two long walks every day to tire her out. Even then she’d grab the old tattered soccer ball and beg me to kick it for her so she could run and catch it, barking in happiness the whole time. She’d leap like a deer over fallen trees, and race ahead on the trail, and sprint back, again and again as if telling me to hurry.
Now as I watch her struggle to rise from her soft bed and lumber painfully along a forest path, tears thicken my throat. Every once in awhile, there are flashes of her puppy playfulness. When she digs in her toy box for a well-chewed stuffy and whines until I toss it for her to retrieve, or when she scents a grouse in the forest and her old body stiffens and she forms a perfect point, her tail wagging a mile a minute in excitement and pride.
A unique bond develops between an older dog and its owner. Maybe it’s the certain knowledge that time with your pet is limited. You relish every minute you have together. Maybe it’s their gazes filled with patience, wisdom and acceptance.
I still take my old girl on daily walks. Some days, we march right along; others we meander from one smell to another enjoying each other’s company and living each minute to the fullest. Even as I write this blog, Jazz is lying beside me snoring contentedly. Every once in awhile she lifts her head and watches me as if to say, ‘We’re in this together, old friend.’ Yes, Tom T Hall had it right. Old dogs are one of life’s special treasures.