Note: I wrote this post almost a year ago, in April 2018. Sadly, my senior dog Ace died unexpectedly before I published it, so it’s been sitting in my drafts until now.

Don’t feel sorry for my old dog

Whenever I post a picture of my 12-year-old black Lab mix, I know I will get a few comments along the lines of:

“Poor baby. You look so sad.”

Or, “He looks like he’s had enough.”

Or, “Poor thing.”

Ace, 2017

I realize my dog looks ancient. Because, he is! But my dog is not suffering, as far as I know. He’s not sick. I don’t believe he’s in a lot of pain.

He’s old.

And as one vet told me, “Age is not an illness.”

My dog’s resting face looks sad, just like my resting face probably looks like a bitch face. 🙂

He’s got droopy eyes and white eyebrows. What can I tell you?

Ace, spring 2018

I don’t want people to feel sorry for my old dog. He’s been loved every single day of his life – all 12 years. Not every dog is that lucky. Most dogs don’t even make it to 12. Ace is a lucky dog!

I don’t think old dogs want us to feel sorry for them. I think they just want to be loved, spoiled and treated like the good dogs they are (they’re all good dogs, Brent).

Old dogs are better off if we view them as wise, strong, old souls. Not as pitiful creatures.

My old dog’s got life experiences my young pup can’t even imagine. He’s got stories to tell. He’s seen some shit.

So don’t feel sorry for Ace. (I know most of you don’t.) Be thankful for a dog who’s had a good life. He’s still enjoying a good life.

My senior foster dog Dora

Senior dogs Ace and Dora
Ace and Dora, 2012

In 2012 I fostered a black Lab I named Dora. She seemed ancient to me at the time. Now my old dog is looking more and more like Dora every day. The white face. Stiff joints. Random (large) bumps and lumps.

But Dora was a happy dog! She still enjoyed trips to the park, playing with toys and sniffing the grass. In her dreams, her paws would run and I liked to think she was playing with old friends, running with the best of them.

But people needed to view Dora as sad and broken and mistreated.

“Who would abandon such an old dog?” people asked.

“Her feet are so cracked, she must’ve been lost for a long time, or dumped.” (No, the vet said old dogs often have cracked paws, it’s normal.)

I chose to believe otherwise. That Dora had known a good life. She made it to live to be very old (at least 12). Someone must’ve cared for her.

Senior foster dog Dora
Dora

She would look to every person she met with love and trust. I don’t know what her past was like or why she ended up as a stray in the pound. But I know Dora was enjoying the moment. She was optimistic and did not feel bad for herself. I saw it as my job to treat her with respect, not pity.

So we enjoyed our 6 weeks together. See my post: A perfect day for a dog

And then Dora got adopted. At 12+ years old, she went to love a new family. I learned a lot from Dora, most importantly, to enjoy the moment because life is short. Fostering her for 6 weeks was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.

My senior dog Ace

When I look at my senior black Lab mix Ace today, of course I feel sad. I know our time is limited. But I’m also thankful for all the time we do have. I see him as my best buddy, someone to walk with, someone who still jokes around.

My dog Ace in Yosemite
Ace, Yosemite, 2017

My dog is not a sad, old man.

My dog is a wise soul.

In memory of Ace
March 2006 – May 2018

Related posts:

A letter to myself, when my old dog dies

How to help your senior dog stay mentally sharp

Exercise ideas for senior dogs