Today is Bailey's 12th birthday and I've been trying to decide how to celebrate. He's not big on party hats, or the silly bandanas they tie around his neck at the groomer. Not a big accessory guy. He has the market cornered on aging gracefully. I hope that I can learn from his quiet acceptance of his graying black spots and the way his back legs don't have the same strength they used to have. He seems quite happy to lounge around most of the day, enjoying afternoon naps in the sun, and loves to take long walks out on the hiking trail, even though they take more out of him than they used to.
For his friendship, I am grateful. He and I have had a loving relationship since he came to live with me when he was 10 weeks old. We've slept together on stormy nights. He's cuddled up close to me, offering comfort when I needed a good cry. He never offered unsolicited advice, just listened, ears perked, when I had things to work through. He's always happy when I come in the door, and spends most of the workday lying at my feet...a great thing when the weather is a little cold.
My friend Carol says he's a "philosopher" at heart, with soulful eyes and a harmonic demeanor. When we take walks and the smaller more vocal dogs greet him with lots of barking as they pull on their person's leash, he simply stops for a moment, takes note, and goes about sniffing at the grass and around the lamp post or tree stump. He is certain of who he is, and fearless when it comes to other canines. Torrential rain accompanied by thunder and lightning...now that's something he's a little more leery of.
As he ages, things just don't seem to be as easy for him as they used to be. He has an accident now and then, which makes him a little embarrased, and his diet seems to be getting a little complicated. The stairs seem a little more daunting, and sometimes his back legs just don't support him and he ends up on his bottom. But he just gets back up, shakes a little, and carries on with whatever it is he was doing.
Yes, I want to age as gracefully as my dog. Happy birthday, Bailey. Thanks for the love, the companionship and the smiles you've given me. You really are a good boy and you are very loved.