Today would have been Kessie's fifteenth birthday.
She's been gone since August of 2011, but I still find myself looking for her when I walk into a room. Kes shared my life from the time she was eight weeks old until the instant she passed. We shared nearly fourteen years together. Of course, I still think about her (and all the dogs who've gone before).
In honor of her birthday, I'd like to share one of Handsome's favorite posts that I wrote two months before she died. I'm not sharing it to make you (or me) sad. I'm sharing it because if you have ever opened your heart to a pet, you'll understand. And if you haven't, perhaps this will give you a glimpse into what life with an old companion can be like.
We Could Learn A Thing Or Two...
Kes can't hear as well as she used to, or perhaps she has just decided that it's not as important to come when I call her now. She might have another agenda that she doesn't care to share, but that's really alright with me. Perhaps I'll learn something new by following her for a change.
She's always watching, even with eyes that don't see as well as they used to. I might drop something that she'd care to eat, or maybe she'll see me grab her lead, which means I'll offer to take her for a ride in my car, or we'll head out for "walkies". Her legs are stiff and arthritic, but that doesn't stop her from wanting to take a little stroll. There are still so many things in this vast world that she wants to smell.
Kes still rolls her toys across the floor and chases them. She's not as steady on her legs as she used to be, but that never stops her from wanting to play. When I return from a night out with the girls or a trip to the grocery store, she pops up from her "waiting place" in the hall and runs to me with her tail wagging. "Where have you been?", she'll ask. "I've missed you." She's always rewarded with a "Hi, Kessie Bear. I've missed you, too." and a pat on the head.
Dogs are blessed with a "live in the moment" mentality. They don't feel sorry for themselves over something that happened yesterday, or lament aches and pains. They don't hold grudges. They don't mourn losses. They love unconditionally - always.
Having an old dog isn't easy. It's getting up in the middle of the night when she needs attention. It's lifting her when she falls. It's crying when she doesn't feel well, and it's fear about tomorrow. It's the price we pay for all the gifts they give us during their lives. It's why we keep doing it. You know, getting young dogs that (hopefully) turn into old dogs. Who share their sweet lives with us and make us richer for having loved them.
Happy Birthday, Kessie Bear.