Welcome to Wide Open Wednesday! This – and every – Wednesday, I will write about something that is interesting to me outside the kitchen. I may share an article, a quote, a question, an experience, a highlight, a low moment or whatever else inspires me to put fingers-to-keyboard. It’s pretty much wide open.
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I love my dog, Tour.*
I love him in the way that I find myself watching him sleep, happily watching his little ribcage rise and fall with each breath. I love him in the way that I want the best for him and do things that are not comfortable for me to make his life better. (Think 5 am walks.)
I am fascinated by his cuteness. Objectively, I can see that he looks like a plain dog to most people. He’s a junkyard dog, an all-American mutt.
But to me, he’s precious and special. A few years back, I kept a blog for a year that showed a picture of Tour in different place in Denver every day. To me, each picture shows another side of his doggie personality. I can look through all 365 photographs and be fascinated by each one. I know this to be true because I have done it. More than once.
Tour is getting older. Since we are not sure how old he was when we adopted him from the MaxFund, we are not sure how old he is now. We’ve had him for almost 8 years and he was full grown when we adopted him – so he’s definitely into double digits, a doggie senior citizen.
He’s got a little white hair under the chin. He’s lost some weight off his dense terrier frame. But that’s pretty subtle.
What’s most noticeable to Matt and me is how much he has slowed down during the past few months. Getting up from his dog bed requires more stimulus than it used to. Previously, if I touched the dog leash, even brushed it by accident as I was moving things around, he would sprint towards me, all tail-wagging eagerness. Now he looks up at me as if asking, “Is this for real? Are we going for a walk? I’m in – but I’d like to know for sure before I stand up.”
Sometimes these days, I have to call him twice or three times when I have treats for him. That was not the case when he was younger. If I looked at bacon, he appeared beside me, sitting, ears perked up, staring intensely, in position for a treat.
It’s been interesting to watch our little bud get older. Tour is the first dog I have owned and I frequently joke that I plan to retire with him. I imagine me, Matt and Tour sitting on the front porch, enjoying afternoon sun together. I laugh when I tell people this but I am only sort of kidding.
Right now, he still has good moments and even good days. This line from a country song describes Tour’s situation best: “I’m not as good as I once was but I’m as good once as I ever was.” Just last night, Tour sprinted and barked at a squirrel that taunted him from an electricity line overhead. But when I called him off, he came without hesitation. He looked at me – “Yeah, I showed that squirrel.” Then he came inside and gingerly sat down on his dog bed, lowering his left hip first to minimize the discomfort.
As we started to see these signs of aging, Matt and I try to help him. We changed his dog food to a brand that is grain-free, figuring it may help reduce inflammation. I started giving him glucosamine supplements, which are reported to help with sore joints. I slip him one of my fish oil capsules each morning.
I monitor his every movement, trying to assess if the supplements are helping. I think they are. “Doesn’t he look more comfortable?” I asked Matt last Saturday. “Maybe,” Matt replied. He looked at me. “He’ll have good days and bad days, you know” Being a nurse, he has a lot more experience than I do with aging.
Tour could be with us for several more years, just at this slower pace. At a recent check up, the pretty young vet told us his blood work was all normal and she saw no signs of illness, just age.
Tour doesn’t have much to say on the topic of his health and well-being. He seems a little more thoughtful about how and when he moves, more reluctant to leap into bed with Matt and me. But when he makes the jump, rolls over and sticks his four paws in the air waiting for a belly rub, there’s not a bit of difference from how it was when he was a much younger pup.
*About his name: The shelter in Denver that we adopted Tour from told us he was given his name because his first owner adopted him to go on tour with a band. Matt and I decided not to change it, given his age (which was 6 – or 4 – or 2, depending on who you asked.)