There are no other photos in this post, because the weather outside is frightful. It started off this morning snowing when we got up, which was awesome, so we rushed outside to play in the white stuff. The snow turned to ice balls and then to rain a couple hours later and it’s been raining coldly ever since. Now the ground is still mostly frozen, with puddles of slowly melting frozen mud sitting on top of it, very slippery – recipe for a cruciate tear. Which, for those of you who do not follow us on Facebook, is what Wootie was diagnosed with earlier this week. Le sigh.
“Full tear, left knee” Dr. B told me, flashing me his highest wattage “Please Don’t Punch Your Vet In The Face Today” smile.
Poor Mr. Noodles. He’ll probably die of grief when he realizes he won’t be allowed to climb on my bed after the surgery.
He’s getting around on it just fine – mostly limpy/sore looking in the evenings. When he’s out there tearing around after his soccer ball, you’d never know there was a thing wrong with him. So he also came along on our afternoon constitutional. We all played some ball for a bit and got super muddy, then we walked through the back of the property through the long wet grass to soak some of that mud off.
Tweed does this thing that drives me crazy when we’re out walking, which is to walk just a little behind me to the right, and repeatedly nudge or bump my hand with his soaking wet head or nose. In the cold weather it annoys me because it makes the fingers of my gloves wet. In the summer it’s gross because I’m hot and sticky and so is his nose, just compounding the hot and stickiness of it all. It’s also repetitive and irritating, and sometimes I whip my hand away and snark at him to STOP THAT. When I turn to glare at him, he is always smiling up at me hopefully, and I always feel a little ashamed of myself.
I don’t anthropomorphize my pets*; I know what he’s doing, he’s harassing me for a cookie, which are in my right hand pocket. He’s always done it, although he knows I almost always only give out cookies to reward behaviours – and not THAT behaviour, tyvm. The older he gets, the more insistent about it he’s become, like he thinks he deserves free cookies by virtue of aging. He’s probably right. More and more, I do give them to him freely. How many more free cookies are in his future after all? He’s in fantastic shape, but he is going to be 15 this year … he can cookie all he wants, probably.
But sometimes it feels like he’s saying “Hey, don’t forget about me lady.” Don’t forget to give me a cookie. Don’t forget I’m following you, loyal to your pocket, connected to you. Don’t forget about me. Don’t forget.
Because we do; we do forget. I forget myself when I snap at him to stop poking me with his wet face, making my wet fingers uncomfortable. I don’t walk around all day thinking about how old he is, how we won’t have a forever together, how one day I won’t turn look down to see his face grinning up at me, open mouthed, eyes meeting mine and then glancing purposefully at my pocket. I live in a world that is not consumed by thoughts of my aging old friend. He needs to remind me sometimes. He needs to remind me not to take him for granted, not to forget. I need him to do that for me.
We were walking out on the property a couple of weeks ago when a small flock of 4 snow geese flew overhead, honking like a bunch of grunty toys. We were heading North, they flew South, behind us and away, their honking receding in the wind. We kept walking, and then I heard them coming back. There was one at the head of the flock, two behind it and to the left, one behind it and to the right. They looked unbalanced – broken, like a fighter jet with a missing wing. Their honking increased in frequency and intensity, and then I heard another snow goose answer. It was coming from the other direction, wings pumping hard, neck straining. Don’t forget me. They crossed paths right above us, and the lone goose stalled in the air, banked sharply almost upside down and took up its place in the formation, on the right. A perfect “V” once more, and they all swept off again, goose noises fading to silence.
Tweed, my wing man, taking up his place at my right. Where he belongs. Making me whole. Silently reminding me he’s here. Don’t forget me.
Thank you Tweed, for the reminder. One day, all I will have of you are memories. Thank you for helping me to remember to make some. Have a cookie. Take the whole damn pocketful.
Happy New Year, friends :)
(*totally untrue, I anthropomorphise my pets ALL THE TIME. For example, everything Ender does to annoy me is calculated and by design, I’m sure of it)
Yes, old dogs need us to pay attention, even through the annoying nudging behaviours, the slowing downs, the lookings lost and confused, the shuffles and stumbles on uneven ground. I have that old dog too and try to remember we don’t have unlimited time when I almost lose my temper, and so I bite my tongue, tell her I love her and what a good dog she will always be. Old dogs rock. Thanks for your lovely post.
My 15 (and a quarter) year old has decided to just grab whatever crosses her line of vision, in case it’s a cookie. Fortunately, she doesn’t have any teeth left, so she just swallows my fingers up to the knuckles and then spits them out. She also gets quite a lot of “just for breathing” cookies.
Oh, beautiful post and excellent reminder for those of us with the old ‘uns. Now please excuse me…I have to put some cookies in my pocket….
Beautiful post. A nice reminder as I look across to my 11.5 yr old red Aussie (with tear in my eye) and wish our days could last forever. He gets the first cookie, and extra cookies, every time. (Shhhh, don’t tell the other dogs. Their time will come someday )
Tears. I’ve lost two old dogs in the last two years. Have a third one coming on 13 too. I just signed him up for a nosework class. We’ve never done nosework but this may be the last time I get to do an activity with him. Just me and him. He has been there through the birth of my kids and the new puppy. He doesn’t get to do much and I think he will love having some time with me. I know I will cherish spending time with him. I’m glad I remembered him before it was too late. Thanks for your post.
You have me in tears. I lost one dog in October, and I lost my heart dog, Dolly, due to surgical complications the week before Christmas. She was my shadow. I still turn to look for her, only to realize she’s not there, and the tears come again.
Janice in GA says
Love, love, and more love. To Tweed, and all the sweet old dogs out there. And the sweet young ones.
And to you and your pack.
Katharine Swan says
What a beautiful post, and so true. Tweed is reminding you, and you in turn are reminding all of us. We should all remember to cherish every minute with our pets, every day, whether they are old or not. They don’t have to be old to be taken from us!
Lou H says
Darn it you’ve made me unable to type through the tears. A perfect and beautiful description of travelling through life with a companion who ages faster than us. Thank you and best wishes to you and your gang.
Good for you Mr. Tweed! My red tri aussie girl will be 15 in April. Though the pain of losing them is huge, the joy of having them make my life complete is so worth it. Thanks for the tears and reminder to give extra cookies to everyone today!
Beautiful post – thanks for the reminder..
Sheena, you are a wonderful writer. You need to write a novel. About anything that strikes your fancy. Please do that. I will buy it. I will make my friends buy it. Not that that will be necessary.
Gods, you’ve never ever made me cry before. Tears of laughter, yes, but not sad tears. So true, thank YOU for the reminder.
Beautiful, Food Lady. Your best post ever, thank you.
To echo the others, this is a beautifully written post. My just-turned 15 year old (who went down in the back two months ago and miraculously made a recovery) can be so loudly demanding. When I have to drop my work and rush her outside I try to remind myself that our “walks” will be short-lived, so to speak. I tell myself not to rush her–even when it means freezing my ass off, standing still, in the wet, while she (endlessly) sniffs something important.
This is a post for all time. Beautifully crafted proving you are eloquent with words as you are with a camera. Well said. Thank you for sharing your life with us.
Pat in Edmonton says
Okay stop it!!! i read this at work as, sigh, as my home computer is at the Geek doctors, and i am crying, not only for Tweed but my Banny his time is coming way to soon and i wish i could stop time for him so i have forever with him, but alas it doesn’t work that way. I remember every day that his time is so limited now with me. He gets extra cookies, and way too many hugs, Not!! but he deserves that and so much more.
Thank you for sharing Tweeds life with us, its been a wonderful journey all these years.
The story of the snow geese was perfect for reminding us not to forget those who make us whole. Gracie will be 13 next month and has health problems so I try to treasure every moment – every muddy foot print, every I-can-hear-you-but-I-am-going-to-pretend-I-can’t recall, every night when I get 1/4 of the bed and she gets 3/4. Everyone with an old dog knows that old dogs rule. Just turned away from the computer to see her watching me almost as if she knew what I am feeling. Thank you, Food Lady, for a lovely post.
Thank you, too, for the news about Mr. Woo though I am so sorry he has to have surgery. How will you ever keep him quiet during recovery. All best wishes for a successful surgery and rapid recovery!
Happy New Year to you and your wonderful pack.
Kate D. says
Wonderful post, “straight from the heart”, thanks for letting us know about the Woo, I dont do facebook so thanks for catching us up, it will be challenging to keep him quiet for sure and to not jump, I’m sure you’ll figure out a way! and a hug and big thanks to Tweed for reminding us to always have cookies in our pockets and not leave them in the boxes ! now I have to go get a kleenex
Lauren Miller says
Oh no!! I’m so sorry about Wootie’s leg!! That sucks!! I hope he feels better soon!! Thank you for the reminder to not forget. Great post!
Happy New Year!
I lost my Gizmo right before Thanksgiving(US). He’s a red and white BC/Aussie mix. Oh, damn, he WAS… my Bossy Aussie. He was 14.5. I was fondly remembering all the things that made him special, like his “Sweet Gizzie Woo-woos”. I realized he hadn’t Woo-wooed in a very long time. — I had FORGOTTEN his “Sweet Gizzie Woo-woos”.
I knew he had severe weakness and and some pain from his spine, and his world had gotten smaller and less fun. I fed him cookies, lots of cookies. But cookies didn’t make up for wild chases after the ball, for boinging up and down in anticipation of a throw. The Woo-woos were tied to all his full-tilt activities, to excitement. Maybe it is good that I had forgotten them, because I couldn’t bring them back. But I never forgot that he was the best dog ever. Ever.
Woo-woo, Gizmo, Woo-woo
‘there are no other photos in this post’ she says. good grief, you got all ELEVEN dogs into one picture!! with their winter coats on!!! thanks, it’s lovely. i wanted to say that his morning when i first read your post. hard to type thru the tears tho — my old guy left a few months ago. give your tweed those cookies if they make him feel special, because he is.
Bless you! Happy new year and I hope Woo has a very successful and uneventful surgery and rehab.
Teresa T says
Thank you for the reminder!
Maria Shanley says
We won’t ever forget any of your dogs!
What this post lacked in photos, it more than made up for in words. A lovely tribute to your aging friend. Beautiful post, Food Lady, just beautiful.
thank you, thank you very much. Every time Rikki struggles to haul herself upstairs (her hind quarters can barely remain upright) to find me, I remember. I remember how she used to hurl herself with abandon into 6ft. surf to beat Gus to the tennis ball, or how she would swim circles around me on our mile open ocean swim, or leap chest high out of sand to field a ball off the cliff…when she skitters on the hardwood floors and collapses in a heap before her destination I see her old determination as she strains to right herself and continue as if it was intended…thank you. I remember.
Spring Ahead says
Love this post! To FL, Tweed and the rest of the pack, ALL THE BEST for 2015!
To echo everyone else…thanks for this post, FL. I too have an aged friend, an almost-14-year-old
Aussie who some days seems to hear and some days does not. Some nights he paces around panting, in a panic, and other nights he sleeps the sleep of angels. He follows me everywhere I go. I work from home so he is always with me. When I get up to stretch, there he is…when I get up to go to the bathroom…there he is…you get the gist. I too, find myself getting annoyed and wishing he would relax and stay where he is, but now I get it. My heart will break when he breathes his last breath, so I will do my best to make each moment count until that time. All the best to you and your pack in 2015!
Aislinn, Glenn, Coop and Joon says
I balled my eyes out reading this. I was reading it out loud to Glenn and he wiped a few tears away too. Give Tweed an extra snuggle for us.
That is one heck of a lot of dog coats.
But seriously, I agree with Jeff: “What this post lacked in photos, it more than made up for in words.” My 12 year old also does the bump-my-hand thing, the sometimes-I-can-hear-you-and-sometimes-I-can’t thing, and all the other things that make me instinctively start to respond with, “Hey, you know better!” But she also has a failing heart, and more and more since I learned that I find myself instead saying things like, “Since you asked, why yes I can stop halfway up the stairs, put down all this junk I’m carrying, and scratch your belly for a minute, or a few minutes…or how ever long you want, really.”
Because it will never be long enough.
Next week it’ll be two years since my Bodhi went on without me. I remember everything. He was a dog in a million, and I remember every wonderful thing about him. Tweed’s right: collect those memories. Bless you.
Facebook brought this post back to the top…one year ago today.