This is my old girl. She is a 12 year old Australian Shepherd. I got her at 6 weeks of age and began her training as a search dog at 8 weeks of age. Her life was all about work. When do we work again.... how about now? Now? I am not done yet... I can go longer... I can go farther... I can't stop until I find -it- -her- -him- whatever I am supposed to find.
And can I snuggle with you now? She is an amazing snuggler!!!
She has always taken pride in teaching other dogs. From teaching the ropes on agility, to how to use a dog door, to how fast to come back to your handler after you have made the find, to proper etiquette around other dogs... ahh the list goes on.
With the advent of an enlarged heart and severe hip dysplasia her life is now "when is dinner?" or "When is breakfast?" How about now? Now? And don't forget the go to bed treat.... I let her choose if she is going to go with me the majority of the time. I let her know what is on the agenda and if it suits her liking, or how she is feeling that day, she either bids me goodbye, or eagerly joins me. But mostly, life is waiting for the next meal.
I know she is in pain a fair amount of the time, but she never complains about that. I see her get up slowly, limp occasionally, and ask for help onto the couch, but she rarely whines or whimpers. She has always been a tough dog. The only thing she complains about is WHY AREN'T YOU MOVING FASTER TO FEED ME? And this she does 3 times a day. Breakfast, Dinner and bed time. It doesn't matter how fast or how slow I go, the barking starts in the morning 30 seconds after the alarm goes off and doesn't stop until the food bowl hits the ground. It starts up again when I come through the door at night and I can't get the food bowl filled and onto the floor fast enough for her.... good thing I have tolerant neighbors.....
There will be a day that I have to say goodbye. I have had dreams lately that tell me that I am spending my last year with her... that she has another place to go soon. I wake up from those dreams and take a deep breath, and actually thank the universe for giving me advanced notice.
Nevertheless, I probably won't be ready to say goodbye. She is and always will be the most amazing Red Dawg on the planet. How do you let go of that?