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February 28, 2012 / Rae Spencer

The Old Dog

There’s no way around it. Indigo is getting old.

Time steadily steals her enthusiasm for tag, thwarts her agile leaps to catch a ball. Deafness eases her thunder phobia, but also ruins her nightly reunions with my husband. She no longer hears his approach, so misses his entrance. Failing eyesight slows her pace, and a few terrible crashes have turned her tentative in the dark.

Her age hurts. I ache when she stumbles on the steps or staggers stiffly through what was once an exuberant dance of greeting. I’m doubly wounded when she snaps in frustration, compensating for growing weakness with the only defense left to her.

It’s a dreadful miracle, this loving of dogs. Their lives are so short compared to ours, traversing so many different paths to inevitable loss. Even so, I’m not sorry to have loved this dog, to love her yet, despite her spectacular array of bad habits and neuroses. She’s a deeply flawed beast, but aren’t we all?


  1. Vicki / Feb 28 2012 7:37 PM

    I hope that Indigo has a lot more time with you.. she looks like a faithful companion.

    • Rae Spencer / Feb 28 2012 7:46 PM

      Thank you. She’s a difficult dog, but I love her anyway!

  2. kathrynmartins1 / Feb 28 2012 7:44 PM

    What a beautiful soul, Rae. The losing before the loss is such a conflicted blessing. As you say, loving a dog is a “dreadful miracle.” And you don’t want them to suffer, and you don’t want them to go. Hope there are many mercies in this, Indigo’s twilight.

  3. Mizkayte27 / Feb 28 2012 7:47 PM

    This is so true! I have an old dog as well. She’s blind and is quickly running out of teeth. She’s still a little firecracker though and beats up the much bigger spaniel and shepherd. Got to love them. The heartbreak is awful when the time comes but I can’t imagine no doggies.

    • Rae Spencer / Feb 28 2012 7:58 PM

      Indigo is not a very social creature, so we don’t have any other dogs right now. There’s going to be an odd emptiness, when she is gone. I don’t know how we’ll fill it.

  4. jeaniemac100 / Feb 28 2012 9:19 PM

    Oh, Rae, how you protray love for such a lovely, ornery fellow. I miss my granddog, nine months gone, as I read your touching words.

  5. Jeanette Gallagher / Feb 28 2012 11:55 PM

    Indigo is soo beautiful. The comment above by kathryn is such a poignant statement about the “losing before the loss” says much and it is a “conflicted blessing” as well. I suspect you have a lot of wonderful pictures of her. Prayers and all good wishes for more time.

  6. IseeIwriteIam / Feb 29 2012 3:42 PM

    There definitely is a sadness in watching them grow older. I have three that are going through this right now, so I can sympathize with what you are experiencing. I find it comforting to remember that there will come a time when their body cannot betray them anymore and they are free to run and romp again.

  7. becca givens / Mar 2 2012 12:14 AM

    I can relate to this one … I am in the process of palliative care for the matriarch of the fur-family. She was diagnosed with liver failure last Friday. We are working with her round of the clock until she signals to us she is ready to go. It is heart-breaking yet in the process of her last days with us, she is teaching me so much!

    Great photos of Indigo! Many blessings ~~

    • Rae Spencer / Mar 2 2012 8:34 AM

      I’m so sorry for your heartbreak. I’ve experienced the process of losing my own pets, over and over again, and it never gets easier. As kathrynmartins said so beautifully, I hope there are many mercies in the coming days.

  8. bardessdmdenton / Mar 5 2012 2:03 PM

    Oh, Rae, so beautifully and poignantly put. I so understand, event though I have cats. Every day I just want to make time stand still for the relationships we have and the joy their personalities and mannerisms and even little foibles they bring into the every day.

    Indigo is a truly beautiful creature…gray hairs and slow walk and bad eyesight and hearing and all…in her soul she remains what she has always been.

    The last few lines especially went straight to my heart…

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