Tales From A Hungry Life

February 7, 2017

7 Things You Must Learn From Your Old Dog

by Maria Schulz

There are few things in life as wonderful as bringing a brand new puppy into your home. Puppies are adorable, funny, and curious. Even when they screw up royally by eating the kitchen cabinets or chewing a hole in your couch, you can’t stay mad at them forever.

All of that is true, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: puppies are great, but old dogs are fantastic too. It’s easy to understand why: they’ve gotten most of their bad habits out of their systems (let’s be honest: are all of your bad habits out of your system?) and over the years, you will have developed a mutual affection and understanding.

Where's the cheese?

Where’s the cheese?

As my dog has moved into her “golden years,” she has reminded me of all the ways she has been a blessing in my life. Here are some of the life lessons I’ve gleaned from watching her get through her days.

  1. When You Don’t Feel Good, Lie Down

This seems like a no brainer, but silly humans keep going sometimes instead of listening to their bodies. I am one of those humans. My dog, however, will curl up in a ball on her bed and stay there until she feels better. Who’s the smart one?

  1. When the Sun Shines and the Temperatures are Mild, Let’s Walk

Extremes are not for the old dog. High temperatures or brutal cold bother my dog, so it’s in and out in a flash. But a beautiful day demands participation. We walk for a while, taking in the sunrise or staring at the stars. It’s the best medicine in the world.

Hot, hot, hot

Hot, hot, hot

  1. Medicine goes down better when there’s cheese

Remember Mary Poppins? A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down. Or in my dog’s case, cheese does the trick. Don’t skip out on the very thing that will make you feel better. Find a way to tolerate it and even look forward to it.

  1. Express Joy When Your “Peeps” Come Through the Door

Maybe you can’t jump up and greet them, but you can always let them know how delighted you are to have them around. My dog wags her tail just because we’re sitting close by and watching TV. She’s never shy about letting us know that she’s happy.

You're here!

You’re here!

  1. Some Days Will Be Better Than Others

Every day won’t be a party. Arthritis, stomachaches, headaches, bad hips, or bad knees will sometimes make today a non-participatory day. But tomorrow may find that old dog bringing you her favorite hedgehog toy and playing hide and seek. Live in the moment. Be patient and understanding…just like your dog will be when your bad back leaves you stranded on the couch.

Let's play

Let’s play

  1. Greet Old Friends and Make New Ones

My dog is blessed with a bit of Marilyn Monroe beauty even now. People will stop us to say hello, pet her, and ask how she’s doing. My dog happily accepts all adoration and is delighted when there’s another dog on the other end of this admiration society. Thanks to her, I have met more people than I ever would have if I were walking alone. Sure, puppies bring scores of people to your side…but old dogs are also magnets for the very best people: those who are kind, compassionate, and want to give you and your dog a little support as you walk slowly towards home.

Let's walk

Let’s walk

  1. Every Day is The. Best. Day. Ever.

My old girl doesn’t spend her days worrying about what tomorrow may bring. She wakes up everyday and is ready to eat, walk, and head out on an adventure. She doesn’t dread the numerous vet visits; instead, she charges gleefully through the door. She is the only dog I have ever had that gets excited when I say, “want to go see Dr. D?” She still barks ferociously and protects the people and home that she loves. Every vet visit, car ride, sunrise or starry night is waiting for her, and it’s going to be AWESOME.

I’ve heard it said that people wish they could be half the person that their dog thinks they are. Well, I wish I could be half as optimistic as my old Lab. In the meantime, I’ll follow her lead and enjoy our life together right now.

Recipe: Grilled Cheese

Tomato soup and grilled cheese. A perfect marriage

Tomato soup and grilled cheese. A perfect marriage

50 of the Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Nothing makes my dog shimmy and shake quite as much as the sight, smells, and sound of a grilled cheese. These recipes all look delicious and include 50 versions of this time-honored favorite, including the classic grilled cheese, bacon and tomato, pesto, Mediterranean, Gruyere with Sauerkraut, and more.

So: what have you learned from your old dog? Leave a comment and share your thoughts. Thanks! I hope that today brings you your own great adventure.

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20 Comments »

  1. You’re so right, Maria–we adopted our corgi Grace at 4 and the breeder looked at me with one eyebrow cocked when I said, “Boy, are we lucky we missed that puppy stage” and she replied, “You have no idea.” She’s 14 now and we couldn’t have more fun with her. One more piece of canine wisdom I certainly could learn to heed more is “Do more listening than barking, you’ll learn something that way.”

    Comment by Beth Goehring — February 7, 2017 @ 8:41 am | Reply

    • More listening, less barking. I love that! I can’t believe Gracie is 14. She looks great. Old age is hard for all of us but if we can follow our dog’s lead, it doesn’t have to be miserable. Thanks for always reading and commenting.

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — February 7, 2017 @ 10:37 am | Reply

  2. Well said!

    Comment by Doreen Moran — February 7, 2017 @ 9:27 am | Reply

    • Thank you! High praise from a fellow pet lover who understands what I’m talking about. Thanks for commenting.

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — February 7, 2017 @ 10:38 am | Reply

  3. There’s nothing better than the unconditional love of a doggie. ❤️🐶🐶

    Comment by Paula — February 7, 2017 @ 9:37 am | Reply

  4. knowing Trixie as intimately as I do, she is just as sweet as the day your brought her home, maybe even sweeter. she picked the right family. I read your essay with a smile and a lump in my throat. all of my dogs were special and each had a piece of my heart. when people start with what about the hair, what about the walks in the cold. who cares, what you get back is 10 fold. as I get older, I have come to realize your true friends are usually dog people and your best friend will always be your dog. thanks for writing such a beautiful piece.

    Comment by Diane Vitolo — February 7, 2017 @ 10:54 am | Reply

    • Thanks for reading and commenting. You were there the day we brought her home and she still gets excited to see her Italian godmother!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — February 7, 2017 @ 2:33 pm | Reply

  5. I had many dogs in my life but when I was younger I really didn’t appreciate them as much as I should have but I was just a puppy then also. The ones I had when my kids were growing up were really my kids and they were additional children to love and take care of. The last one I had in my life was Jessie, a rescue by my daughter a Boarder Collie mix (we only had mutts, the strongest and best). Jessie helped me through some of the toughest times of my life where I could share with her my fears, hurts and joys. She always listened and if I sounded too down she’d kiss me just to make me feel better. She trusted me to always take care of her but in the end I had to give her up to life’s final living, not an end but a new beginning, but that beginning was not with me. We had a lot of laughs as well as tears to share and I was the better for it because Jessie was right along side of me.

    Comment by bglou — February 7, 2017 @ 12:39 pm | Reply

    • Jessie was a beautiful dog and she was your bestie. Those long walks brought you both joy. I’m glad I brought her home.

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — February 7, 2017 @ 2:34 pm | Reply

  6. Maria, great post about old dogs, now if only people were this way.

    Comment by Tony Lagalante — February 7, 2017 @ 1:55 pm | Reply

  7. LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! Mr. Artie Dog sends happy tail wags!

    Comment by wordimprovisor177 — February 7, 2017 @ 6:23 pm | Reply

  8. This is my favorite Maria!
    Have been lucky in life to have loved and been loved and still love several dogs.
    And Trixie – she is lucky to be loved by you all.
    What a lucky one she is to get those morning walks.
    My guys look on longingly to be walking with you as well.
    Really enjoyed reading this – now I am going to go pet my dogs!

    Comment by Mary Sussman — February 7, 2017 @ 8:03 pm | Reply

    • Your guys still get confused when I wave at them but they treat me like a rockstar when we meet on the street! Thanks Mary for always waving and encouraging us in the mornings.

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — February 7, 2017 @ 8:34 pm | Reply

  9. Great post! Give Trixie a butt scratch for me 🙂

    Comment by turafish — February 7, 2017 @ 11:51 pm | Reply

  10. Hi Maria, Luv this about your sweet Trixie… Luv exchanging stories about our pups… they are the best and they are a blessing in our lives…

    Comment by Donna Skjeveland — February 8, 2017 @ 9:32 pm | Reply


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