Skip to Content

Don’t Feel Sorry for my Old Dog

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

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

Nancy L. Stordahl

Thursday 4th of April 2019

Aww, what a good boy Ace was (and Beamer too.) It's interesting that people would make comments like that and assume that just because Ace looked old and moved slowly he was sad or not having a good life.

Now that Sophie is old, I sometimes wonder what people think when they see her. Recently, a neighbor commented that he thought her walking looked peculiar. I thought his comment was peculiar!

Sophie has always had a rather serious look to her, and I imagine she looks even more so these days. And she's not even all that gray - not like Ace was anyway!

I love the gray faces of old dogs and the wisdom that they seem to have. Puppies are great, but old dogs are extra special.

I'm glad you published this. I've been thinking a lot about Ace and Beamer lately. I'm glad we've all got so many wonderful memories of those two.

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 4th of April 2019

Thank you. Sophie doesn't look her age at all!

Peggie Arvidson

Thursday 4th of April 2019

Old dogs are the best! I agree, they have seen some stuff and have lived a long time - which is pretty amazing. Although I got both my dogs as puppies from the rescue, they both aged....because I am so lucky!

Every day I got/get with them is AHMAZING!

Kiera lived to almost 16 and Deuce is now 14. I'm here to tell you that I wouldn't trade it for the world! Thanks for reminding us!

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 4th of April 2019

Aww, you're welcome.


Thursday 4th of April 2019

I completely can relate. Our 13 yr. old bc mix still goes on shorter daily walks now with our other 3 younger dogs...he just comes back home before we are done. I cherish EVERY single day with him...and the others. We had to have our 21.5 yr. old cat put to sleep less than a year ago. She had quality of life till the very end. Bless you.

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 4th of April 2019

Thank you so much for your comment, Rachel. Take care and enjoy your time with your pets.


Thursday 4th of April 2019

I get this. I get this SO MUCH. I have an old gal now. Dahlia is maybe 13-14ish (real age unknown -- adopted in May 2008 and we were told she was probably somewhere between 2 and 3, so that makes her between 13 and 14 somewhere). She's old, a little creaky. She's slow (she's always been slow, but now she really takes her time). Sometimes it takes us 45 minutes to walk half a mile. She has kidney disease.

But she's HAPPY. She can't wag her tail anymore due to muscle wasting, but her ears go up, her eyes are bright, and she moves as fast as her wobbly little body can when you get home. She comes to us for love, pushes her head into our chest, and asks for ear scritches. She begs for food and eats her dinner happily (A HUGE BOON for a dog with chronic kidney disease!). She sometimes still barks at the door and tells her younger brother off.

Yet I've had people stop while driving by to tell me how sad and old she looks, how tired she is, "aww she reminds me of Eeyore." Sorry folks, my girl is a happy old dog and I love her dearly. I know our time is limited, but we've had nearly 11 years so far, all of them wonderful. And I'm happy for whatever time we have left. I don't know if I can embed pictures here or not,'s my girl: She looks sad. But she's not. Like your Ace, that's just her face and how she always looks!

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 4th of April 2019

Aww, thank you so much for your comment. That means a lot. Funny, people also told me that Ace looks like Eeyore, even when he was a young dog! Haha! And people would stop me on the street and comment, "How old IS he?" Or, "He looks older than you!" I don't think they ever actually stopped their cars while driving though! Jeez. Haha. Enjoy your time with your sweet, old girl.


Thursday 4th of April 2019

I haven't been doing any blogging or blog following for some time, but I thought I'd check by to see how you, Ace, and Remy were doing. I'm sorry to hear that Ace has passed on and I'm sorry I didn't know to give my condolences at that time. He was a gorgeous dog and well loved. I'm glad you two had the opportunity to share your lives together. <3

I know what you mean about an old dog looking sad and people pitying them. Maya is eleven now. She is both looking and acting old. But she's still loving life--and I'm cherishing every moment.

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 4th of April 2019

Aww, thank you Dawn. I hope you guys are all doing well.