When Your Dog Turns 11

March 9, 2007 was the day I adopted the mutt known as Ace.

My mom and I picked him up in the little farming town of Ada, Minn. It was a Friday, and I had the day off. One decade ago.

I wanted to write this post for a few personal reasons.

First, to honor the best dog in the whole world who is the reason I have this blog and business.

Second, to mark time. 10 years is a long time, but it goes so fast.

Many of us don’t get to have the same dog for a decade. I know I’m lucky Ace is still here with me.

We get comments on our walks now, like, “Wow, how old is he?

Or, “He looks older than you!

People mean well …

They also think it’s “fun” to guess my dog’s age. “Let’s see, I bet you’re … 12?”

Ace is 11.

I adopted him when he was 12 moths old. His first owner told me his approximate birthday; she’d gotten him as a puppy.

My other dog Remy is now 1 year old (his birthday was Feb. 18).

I’m so lucky to have these two dogs—a generation apart in age—overlap in time with me.

We don’t get to have all that many dogs in our lives, my friend Maren pointed out. (Think about that, and choose your dogs wisely.)

I got Ace when I was 23, he and I just kids! Here I am 33. Still young, but somewhere along the way my best buddy grew old.

I know better than to compare any two dogs, but now that Remy is the exact age Ace was when I adopted him, I do look at their lives in comparison.

Ace was far better behaved, calmer, more “mature” at 12 months. Even though he didn’t know a basic “sit” or even his name.

On the other hand, Remy has experienced so much more than Ace had at 12 months, two totally different worlds.

Remy has gone on hundreds of walks by now. He knows the basic commands, gone off-leash hiking. He’s traveled to Yosemite National Park and took a 750-mile roadtrip to visit family where he got to be a “ranch dog” living around a horse, mules and chickens.

He’s been exposed to guns, road in the back of a pickup and went on a snowmobiling adventure chasing us 2 miles up a mountain. He’s taken 4 obedience classes, seen the ocean dozens of times, visited urban coffee shops, restaurants, bars and a brewery.

That’s a lot for a young dog in 1 year!

Ace had a good life in his first year too, but it was basic and limited.

He knew love and security, but there was no training and no walks. No adventures or the kind of companionship I seek with every dog I call mine.

I wish I could contact his first owner now, to tell her thank you for giving her dog to me. For trusting me. But all communication was by phone and I’ve lost her number, can’t remember her name.

Lately, I find myself taking pictures of my two when they’re napping together. They do this late afternoon, as the sun settles low.

I know I won’t have these two dogs forever or long enough. Ace was very ill one year ago, so sick that I spoke these words to our vet: “I’m ready to give up.”

He bounced back.

And I know to appreciate this extra time we still have together. (Even the drool and the constant dusting of black hair.)

Boy do I love you, Ace of Spades.

Happy birthday, and happy “adoptaversary.”

19 thoughts on “When Your Dog Turns 11”

  1. Ace is so precious. My mom always feels previous dogs were a bit ripped off because she didn’t know better, but everyone has always had more than enough love, and that is more important than any training, or other things we often have now. Dogs just want to be with their people, it’s what makes us happy!

  2. I remember so vividly that day we picked up Ace, and I know you know what I was thinking back then ‘cuz I’ve told you. Ace sure turned out to be a gem. It’s hard to believe a decade has passed. So much has happened. And then there’s Sophie who also just turned eleven. I have come to appreciate old dogs so much more than I used to. Sometimes I wonder why this is. Is it just because I’m getting “old” myself? I guess the reason doesn’t matter. I love how Ace inspired your blog and so much more. What a good boy, Ace. Happy birthday! I love you. Great photos, btw. Thanks for sharing them.

  3. Happy Birthday, Ace! My favorite memory of you is when Buddy came to your house to play. Your tail was wagging back and forth with such force hitting the wall and it started to bleed. We love you!

  4. Aw, I wish I could give Ace a big hug for his adoptaversary and I just love seeing the precious pics of Ace and Remy napping together. You and Ace are so very lucky to have so many wonderful memories and years together.

  5. Sandy Weinstein

    it is so hard when they get old. i cry everyday when i look at my oldest. she is now 15 1/2. i have had her since she was 6 wks old. i was her 3rd owner. Evie has terminal cancer, she is deaf, almost blind, has dementia, and sundowner’s and a bad back which she got when she contracted vestibular, not once but twice. she was going in little tight circles the first time and could not stop…the 2nd time it was the alligator rolls. we have been doing chemo but that was not working so not she is on palladia. the tumor in her chest is not shrinking but it is not growing either. she is not in pain except for her back sometimes, which we do acupucture, heat and cold, assisi loop, massages, arnica and pain meds if it is bad. she still has a great appetite, and still loves to play some. when people make comments that i am spending too much money to keep her alive, i just reply would you put your mother down if she had dementia or cancer? yes, she has cost me over 25k in the past 2 yrs, but she is my child. i stay at home alot because she gets anxious if i am gone for any period of time. i have had to put tarps down in my house because she cant hold it too long. yes, i stay up many nights trying to get her to go to bed because of the sundowners, but i dont care. i will be there for her as long as she wants to live. the vet said she has lots of attitude and a strong will to live. so i know that Ace may look old because he is graying, however, i hope he lives a long life. Remy and Ace look cute together napping. glad they are getting along. i know it was tough on Ace at the beginning with Remy. sometimes i will sleep on the floor with Evie because she does not like to sleep in the bed with me anymore. she is also very difficult to travel with. i think it is the dementia because she was always such a good traveler and loved sleeping with me. at least with the tarps, i can hear her get up and know i need to take her out to potty or calm her.

  6. He reminds me so much of Murphy, even though Murph was a chocolate Lab. A stray who walked up to our house and decided he was home. We did try to find an owner, but even working with animal control (the officer there was fantastic), and other resources, no one cared to claim him. We think he was abandoned, yet had some training. He knew sit, and down, and was okay on leash. He was about 2 when he found us, and we had him for 10 years. He was the best dog in the whole world, as I told him often. And a perfect first dog for my hubby who never wanted a dog- calm, gentle, sweet. I learned so much from Murphy and he prepared me for the complete 360 turn that is Lambeau! I was out of town when he crashed and it was left to my daughter to be with him for his final moments. That still tears at me three years later, but I think he knew how hard it would be for me to be the one. Much as I love Lambeau, I still miss my OldDog.

  7. My old girl turned 11 in January. I started my dog walking business last April (nearly been running a year already!) and now Rowan has a new lease of life, she wont go out for walks with my husband anymore without lots of encouragement because she’s worried I’ll have gone out with other dogs with out her! She’s loving this new lifestyle and all her new friends (she has some real favourites, when we pull up to their house she deafens me with her excited “wailing”) She keeps everyone in check and wont let any of the other dogs run off to far ahead, even if that means she has to go hairing off to catch up with a greyhound, she’s a bit noisy with it, but sometimes I dont care, she’s loving this new role. I’m hoping we can enjoy this for a few more years togehter.

  8. Happy everything Ace, so glad you feel better Henry and I were very worried. Glad you can enjoy today, with love

  9. What a beautiful story! Grey hairs let you know there is a lot of wisdom, but still time left to enjoy life. My Charlie will be 10 this year (I’ve had him for 8)and although I feel that I haven’t had him for 8 years, I see the grey on his muzzle and even his paws and sometimes I feel sad. But then I promise to take him to special places and give him some extra treats to make his 10th birthday year extra special.

  10. Happy Birthday, sweet boy! I’m glad I had the opportunity to meet you in person not too long ago. You were so very well behaved and calmly lying at your mom’s feet 🙂

  11. He`s a handsome dog…….Oh heck you got me crying….I feel like I know him too….reading your blogs all the time.I`m gonna go give Emma Lou some love.
    God Bless

  12. Ace is so handsome, and he reminds me so much of our Lab mix we had growing up with that dignified look. And it is so hard not to compare dogs, I catch myself doing it all the time even though I know better…(and I seriously can’t get over that photo of Ace resting on Remy)

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