Our dog is very old. In January, he will be 15 years old. That's really old in dog years. I'm going to look up how old that is . . . . (the internet is a wealth of information, but not all of it is great.) A 15-year old dog is equivalent to 75-105 in human years. Our dog is acting like a 99-year old dog lately. He can't hear very well. I don't think he can see as well as he used to. He has had trouble going up and down our one step in the house, and he has had some accidents in the house in the last month. He's eating ok, but he's losing weight. He sleeps almost all day. Poor old dog.
I've been thinking about him a lot lately, as I've had to deal with his accidents (translate: clean up his accidents, or make the kids clean up his mess and suffer the emotional consequences (which is worth it for the lesson they are learning, but painful nonetheless)). I think that my response toward my old dog, who has been a faithful family pet for 14-almost-15 years, is very revealing about who I really am. I am not a nice person. I get so mad at this poor old dog, who can't help it that he's losing control of himself. I even found myself taking it personally, especially last Sunday when we let him stay in the house while we went to church. We tied him up in the room next to the kitchen - it has a vinyl-type floor that is easy to clean. He had water and a nice soft bed to sleep in, and he should have been grateful to be inside because it was raining that day. It was a cold, windy rain too. When we got home, he had peed and pooped on the floor, and turned over the kitchen trash and rummaged through it. It took Stuart and Sam and me a while to get everything cleaned up, and we were all grumpy about it the entire time. Who wants to come home from church and clean up a mess like that? But see, the real question is: why were we so angry at our old dog? He was just doing exactly what old dogs do.
So, I've been thinking about this (more than I knew) and I have decided to let the dog teach me to be a better person. I want my response to my old, half-deaf, partially blind, incontinent dog to reveal that I am a kind and gracious person (stop laughing!). I want to not get mad at the dog, but to be thankful that we have had him for so long, and to be thankful that he has had a good long life as our family pet. I'm going to give him water in our blue bowls, because he loves having water inside the house in the blue bowls, even though half the time he spills it. I'm going to let him sleep in the hall, the way he always has slept, even if that means the first thing I do in the morning is clean up dog pee. And I'm going to hope that one day when I wake up, I will find out that our dear old dog has died in his sleep, because I don't want to have to decide that his health has gotten to the point that he needs to be put down. I don't want to make that decision. (This reveals that I'm a coward, I know. I'm ok with that.)