63: Old Dogs, Best Friends

63: Old Dogs, Best Friends

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Dog's Life

Old Dogs, Best Friends

Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog.

~Sydney Jeanne Seward

Old dogs make the best friends. I feel a slight twinge of guilt as I write these words, because I think all animals are wonderful. I love how puppies make me laugh as I watch them explore the world, the yard, or even their own food dish. Everything is new to them and there is so much to learn. I love the young, proud dog that runs fast and looks lean and beautiful as it moves. You can see the vitality and pride radiate from its body. But today, my best friend is an eleven-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, and as I stare at her loving face, I know for a fact that old dogs make the best friends.

My old friend came into my life shortly after I had to say goodbye to another loyal friend, an eight-year-old Chow Chow named Tai Pan. We had been through so much together, but try as I might, I couldn’t save him from cancer. I was angry and hurt when Tai Pan passed. I felt like I had run as fast as I could into a brick wall, and all the joy had left my body.

The universe saw my pain and sent healing my way. It came in the form of a wild, happy, Jack Russell puppy. She didn’t come to replace Tai Pan, she came to help me heal. Once she entered my life, I didn’t have time to feel sad. The first day she came into her new home, she tucked her tail and took off running through the house. She showed no fear, no hesitation, just a wild exuberance in exploring her new surroundings. She had such exuberance for life that I named her Zooby.

Zooby wasn’t like all the other puppies that had shared my life. I was used to a good round of running and playing, and then the pup would collapse in exhaustion for a nice nap. Zooby never napped. She had things to do. And so began our adventure, with me running after her, trying to keep up. I didn’t sit down much that first year. Whenever I did, Zooby would come streaking by with the television remote, a pair of my underwear, or whatever she thought might get me up off the couch. Somehow, she always knew the right thing to do to get a rambunctious game of chase going.

After only a few weeks, I became painfully aware that Zooby could outsmart me. One day she watched my cat jump from the back of the couch onto the counter. I walked away for only a few moments, and when I came back, I saw Zooby standing in the sink licking a dirty dish. She looked up at me and had a huge smile on her face. She was so proud of herself. That afternoon I rearranged the furniture and signed us up for an obedience class.

The day of our class came. Our first lesson was to learn the “long down.” This is where the dog lies down on command and remains calm and submissive until released. We were instructed to gently step on the dog’s lead until it lay down and then as it submitted, release a little of the lead. The other dogs had no problem with submitting, but Zooby knew I needed more than a submissive, whatever-you-say-goes kind of girl. She went down and then she rolled over and over and over. She was squealing and growling and chewing on my shoe. The instructor went on with the class, and very firmly told us to continue with the long down technique until we got it. We eventually got it, but not that night.

The years have flown by. Zooby is my constant companion. We spend our time traveling, training, walking, exploring new places, sleeping, and expecting joy and wonder every day. We have a history together. We trust and love each other. As I sit on the couch with Zooby by my side, I reminisce about all the antics she pulled. Jumping up to say hi to a salesman, only to hit him in the groin and drop him to his knees, then licking his face and dancing with delight when he was down on her level. The night I called her inside the house, only to find her standing in a puddle, covered from head to toe with mud. Or how she would get jealous when the other dogs in her agility class ran through the tunnel. That was her favorite obstacle.

Zooby always had a smile on her face and she still does today. So do I. This little girl brought healing, exuberance, and joy into my life and she reminds me that life is good, today and every day. I look at her black face, her muzzle filling in with gray, and I smile. She has always known what I needed even when I didn’t know. Yes, old dogs do make the best friends.

~Jamie Lee

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