I was walking upstairs to go to bed last night when I turned back and realized that our sweet Porterhouse (Australian Shepard Mix and eldest of our two fur-kids for those who don't know; pictured above taking a nap in 2003) was a little slower and stiffer walking up the stairs than she's been in the past. She turned eight in September (which is firmly in the "senior" category for her weight and breed)and this isn't the first sign we've had that she's feeling her age. It kind of made me realize that although Moe (Welsh Terrier puppy and Porter's younger brother) is our baby these days, Porter is...well, she's the soft, quiet...soul of our home.
She's lived with me through six years of college, nine roommates, five houses, and one tiny apartment. She was unwaveringly patient with my three year old baby sister when we moved back in with Mom during my junior year--submitting to all manner of petting and mauling. She was in our wedding, and there to cuddle during all the fights we had the first year we lived together. She's so well mannered that every time we go see my Grandma she says, "Now this is my kind of dog," as Porter sits calmly to be petted on the head. And (just so you don't think she's all sugar and spice) she's the greatest escape artist ever! Over or under, if there's a hole or a weak spot in the fence or a place she can jump from she will find it.
So, to try and help her be more comfortable, Sweet Husband and I bought her a big soft new bed tonight. We made the PetCo employee laugh as we tested the different softness, and then we headed to the craft store for some stuffing to make it even fluffier. And then I came home and looked up all the things you're supposed to do to help an older dog--things to help lift them up the stairs, special food, special ramps--even doggie massage and acupuncture.
And I realized I've never had a dog get old before. We lived in the country when I was younger, and between other animals and the nearby highway, our dogs tended to die in their prime. Which is more sad in some ways, but it saved a certain amount of the calculating that I'm afraid may be coming. How do you give back for eight years of unconditional (and sometimes undeserved) love? How do you put a price on priceless?
But, how does that saying go--don't borrow trouble? So for now we'll enjoy our old girl all the more for knowing that she won't be here forever. It's like the Fall--you love the bright, blue, perfect days just that much more when you think that it will soon be Winter.