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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.”

Jen Gabbard

Friday 7th of April 2017

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)

Keith Amdur

Saturday 18th of March 2017

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

Lindsay Stordahl

Saturday 18th of March 2017

Thank you, Keith.

Barbara Rivers

Tuesday 14th of March 2017

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 :)

Grace P

Tuesday 14th of March 2017

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.


Tuesday 14th of March 2017

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

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 14th of March 2017

Thank you, Kathy!