Saturday, March 10, 2007
Growing old gracefully
I realize that almost everything I write is some kind of comparison between humans and animals or some allegorical connection between God and animals and how that relates to us, but you know what? I have found that God uses my animals to make me much more aware of how to live. REALLY. My oldest dogs, Pharaoh and Ra are prime examples of this. Pharaoh is 11 and Ra is 10. That's pretty old for Italian Greyhounds. Both of these dogs have the most amazing temperaments. Pharaoh is the ultimate Southern gentleman. He is strong, yet soft spoken and his presence is apparent to all without being overbearing. He is forgiving, affectionate, and polite to everyone- all the time. Ra is a different dog and has a completely different personality but has so much dignity as well. Ra is a "pleaser"- he wants everyone to love him and shows his deference to others by licking the other dogs all the time- he grooms the other dogs constantly- and they love this. He is very insecure when Pharaoh is not present and whines and looks for him when they are seperated. He tends to get picked on by the younger dogs, who want to play all the time, and he often comes to me for protection.
Both of these dogs are beginning to experience the symptoms of old age. Pharaoh is going blind and he is overweight (which is MY fault, make no mistake). Ra is having bouts of incontinence and drinking lots of water. Both of these dogs are so AMAZING about these inconveniences and have not lost their amazing dignity. Ra, when he has had an accident overnight in his crate, lets you know by politely stopping before going in his crate and looking at you, as if to say, " I'll go in there, but I would appreciate it if you could change my bedding first." No refusal, no barking, no whining, just a quiet, " Could you help me, please?" Pharaoh spends most of his days sleeping on the couch and when he cannot see where to jump up on the bed (when it's dark, he can't see), gives a quiet bark at our bedside in order to tell us, " I need some help up." We reach over and pick him up and he settles right down. When he doesn't recognize one of the other dogs, he gently moves his nose close to the other dog and sniffs the air until he knows who it is and then ALWAYS wags his tail. When the younger dogs are wanting to play and are being very annoying, he gives them one short growl and that is all that is needed. The younger one goes and finds someone else to bother. WOW, how humbling. I hope that when I am old, blind, incontinent and tired that I can be the model of grace that these two gentlemen are. I hope that I can muster a gentle growl instead of baring my teeth and that I am able to make my requests known without being rude. I pray that I might endure the annoying behavior of younger and more engergetic people without snapping at them. I hope that I will serve as an example to my children for how to endure aging gracefully and gratefully, just like these two beautiful animals.