She sleeps more than she used to. Walks are much longer than in days past, but only because we go at turtle pace. Walks are more like meanders, and are more about sniffing than cardio. Getting up on favorite places – couches, beds – is an ordeal oftentimes. About half the time she manages front feet only, and looks to us for a lift to get the rest of the body where she wants it to go.

Butterscotch

Such a sad little face…and pretty much how I feel some days, at 59, when my body reminds me I remember that I’m not 25 anymore.

It isn’t all bad, however. That she is aging is better than her being gone, though that day will come. No rush on that one. And she does sometimes manage to get up on the furniture spaces she covets. Her funniest move is with the couch in the living room. She goes to the middle of the room and takes a running (if you could call it that) start at the couch and does manage to get up at least 50% of the time. And when she wants to get on the bed in the middle of the night, and I don’t feel like getting up to help her at 3 am, she almost always manages to get those little back legs and her body hauled up to curl up with us.

So I take her little pathetic looks with a grain a salt. She has arthritis and some days are surely worse than others, but she’s got some kick left in her too. She can still bounce around pretty well when dinner is being prepared. And when we’re out walking and she sees a dog she wants to meet she doesn’t hesitate to move quickly. Death’s door isn’t looming close by, and that suits me just fine.

Still, she is declining more rapidly these last six months or so than in the past. When she tries for the couch or bed and misses, you can see the look of shock, or perhaps just disappointment, on her face. In her mind’s eye she got up on whatever surface she was shooting for, and you can see the confusion or frustration on her face that the reality doesn’t match what was in her mind.

I don’t like the reminders that she’s 14 and aging any more than she does. Like Mrs. Darling with her daughter, Wendy, in Peter Pan, I’d like her to be young forever.

“All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, ‘Oh, why can’t you remain like this for ever!’ This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up”  –J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan 

 I share Mrs. Darling’s sentiment each time Butterscotch fails to get on the couch or the bed, struggles to get up the stairs, or slips on them coming down, or any of the other aging things that are part of her daily life now. I wish she could be as she was when I got her from my dad 4 1/2 years ago. As a ten year-old she seemed so much younger.

Butterscotch in car

Her muzzle wasn’t quite so white (“sugar-faced,” as my sister calls it) and she gave me an aerobic workout on her walks, and gave herself one when I let her run in the fields. But there’s something to be said for an older dog who loves to cuddle, who wants to be in the same room with me most of the time. Butterscotch’s favorite new place is the dog bed (on the floor ) in my office where I spend a lot of time when I’m home.  She’s got her belly ready for petting the moment anyone approaches who looks even remotely like they might need to pet a belly.  She’s a good companion for those of us who are slowing down as well. It’s all good.

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8 thoughts on “The Ongoing Aging of Butterscotch

  1. Pet aging is so touchy. Jake (my cat) is 16. This past year he has aged a lot. I don’t think he sees all that well. I saw him walk past a squirrel without a chase, that’s a sign. When he got diabetes many years ago I took the mantra, “whatever he wants, he gets.” He has lasted far longer than I thought and has run with that to his advantage. He’s the only cat that is allowed to boss me around (at least that’s what I tell myself). Last night as I watched him gently snore on the chair my heart hurt thinking that some day he will be gone.

  2. Butterscotch notices, but doesn’t chase, squirrels anymore as well. A sure sign of age. But I’m gonna keep focusing on the fact that she’s here, and she’s still enjoying life and being with us. That has to be enough for now!

    1. I really is, isn’t it? But being 14 is better than the alternative, which is not reaching 14, so I’ll take it.

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