Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tribute to an old dog

Some things in life aren't really appreciated until they are gone. How many times have we heard THAT! But I am living my life trying to focus each day on the things that mean the most to me. To live in the moment and reflect on those things in my life that are so much part of the landscape, part of my reality, without which my life would have a noticeably missing part. The obvious things include my husband (who means EVERYTHING to me), my daughters, my parents and family members. Friends. People I love. They are all supreme. To lose them would be to lose a part of myself.

But here's the thing. When you've had the same little dog frolicking around your home for the past 13 years, he leaves a mark very deep on your heart and in your soul. He is (almost) as much a part of the family as anyone else. A constant companion who never tires of wanting to be with you or do what you do or go where you go.

Every morning for 13 years he has greeted me in the morning. Tail wagging. Brown eyes locked onto my own looking for validation, a greeting, a kind word, a scratch on the head. A bundle of joy.

Nicky has been in our family since my daughters were 13 and 10 years old. Kind of old really to get their first dog, but before that we moved around a lot. Whatever the reasons for delay, we finally got Nicky because Jenni kept bugging us until we did! He was born the same day we arrived in Texas from Germany. Our new home in San Antonio would include a dachshund puppy who was born for us! I truly believe that. He moved into our home and into our hearts.

Now that he is older he is full of understanding. He's lived through 13 Christmases and knows that there is a present under the tree for him that he can open every year. He looks for it! Picks it out and opens it.

He knows if we put on our sneakers we will take him for a walk. He watches carefully to see what kind of shoes we put on which will determine what his morning will be like.

He watches me pour my morning coffee and then excitedly dances around me because he knows I will sit somewhere comfortable to drink it and he can lay next to me.

He sleepily walks to his bed the same time each night knowing he will be lovingly coaxed into bed under his blanket to sleep contentedly till he smells the coffee in the morning and sees the light seeping in under the door into his little room next to the kitchen.

He understands that suitcases mean someone is leaving and he begins to get anxious because his separation anxiety has increased dramatically over the years. He feels secure and happy when the pack is together, but gets concerned when we are not... and feels vulnerable. I think I understand that feeling too....

He LOVED to visit Austin when I was dating and later married Edd but was especially happy to go back home again to San Antonio where he had lived for 10 years. He knew the landscape. He knew every inch of the house and yard. When we eventually moved to Austin into a big and different home he felt lost for a while and scared. He clearly wanted to go back to his old house and would run to the car whenever I went anywhere in hopes that I'd bring him back "home". It took a while, but now he is happy, content and totally at home here. He routinely "sniffs me out". Being the hound dog that he is, he'll keep sniffing the ground till he finds me. There is always an excited recognition when he does!

He's been with me through good times and hard times. He has seen a lot. If he could talk I'm sure he'd tell us a thing or two. We can learn a lot from our pets and their habits but I think one of the most valuable lessons man has learned from his dog is to kick a few blades of grass over it and move on!

He's an old dog now. He doesn't hear very well and his eyes are growing dim. His fur is turning white but he still acts like a puppy much of the time (when he's not sleeping!). He has definitely earned respect, love, extra kindness, and extra attention. He has given us so much and only desired our companionship in return. Gilda Radner said, "I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive."

I wholeheartedly agree.

I've heard it said that until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened.

He has been a great dog. Precious and sweet. How nice we've had him for so long and I hope we'll have him for years to come!

"Old dogs, like old shoes, are comfortable. They might be a bit out of shape and a little worn around the edges, but they fit well."
- Bonnie Wilcox 'Old Dogs, Old Friends'


  1. This is precious post! I totally understand how you feel. Although our dogs are still young, they are a part of our family. Im excited to see how they mature.

    Nicky sounds like the perfect dog. What a special companion. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I enjoyed this so much especially in thinking of our sweet Gretel and Nicky playing together the times we visited. I understand this so well now that our sweet Gretel is gone! Thanks for sharing this!!

  3. Ok, this was just the sweetest darn thing ever... I enjoyed every second of reading this, Mom!!! Sweet, sweet little Nicky. He HAS been with us through a lot. I remember like it was yesterday when we first brought him home!!! Wonderful tribute to the old baby. :)