Monday, September 2, 2013

Sam, Sam, the Enduring Hound.



Time has been kind to Sam, Sam, The Happy Hound. From his horrible and torturous puppyhood, Sam has lived a very good life. No one has hit him. No one has deserted him. No one has starved him. It is sad to mark an animal’s life in contrast to deprivation and abuse but there it is. There is little more than Sam could have hoped for and very little he appreciates in a larger fashion than he does simply having enough to eat.

Yet as time has given time also takes away. Sam is going blind. Sam is becoming deaf. Sam’s motor skills are degenerating. In short, Sam is aging. His jet black hair is white around his muzzle. Sam’s gait is unsure now. The urgency for the hunt is muted and Sam no longer streaks across the yard like the black torpedo that gave armadillos nightmares. Sam is aging.

I’ve started training the two younger dogs not to exit the building like it’s on fire. If Sam gets in the way of the Mutt Tsunami he can get a leg broken or worse. Now, Sam goes out first and the other two have to wait until Sam is off the steps. We have to adapt to the Elder One. They do not like it much but it is in the nature of the Loki Mutt to obey. Lillith likes it less but the “stay” command is one she is beginning to understand. It has to be this way if Sam is to survive getting out of the house.

Sam has also begun to stop in front of me and that causes me to either run into him or have to push him out of the way. I’m learning to catch Sam as he’s approaching me and cutting hard to one side so I go to one side of him rather than into him. This confuses Sam and it makes it look like I’m avoiding him so I have also started to stop and pet him when he isn’t expecting it. Age is making Sam feel less secure as far as his place in the pack goes.

Sam’s mobility is becoming an issue because it takes him longer to stand up, longer to get moving, longer to get to the door, longer to get out of the way, and the younger dogs understand this as well as I do.  Lucas got pushed to the ground and scolded by me for pushing Sam one day and since that last time he hasn’t done it again. Lillith has always treated Sam with a lot of respect but she will still lick his muzzle more than he likes. Lillith loves her Elder Mutt. The first little girl dog to arrive here has been a total success.

I wondered if I was going to be able to get Sam past this Summer. It has been a very cool Summer with very few triple digit days. An aging hound has been given a break from the weather and I hope that next Summer will be gentle to him as well. Sam is over twelve years old now and he’s showing it in many ways. Sam no longer eats as fast or as much as he once did. Sam sleep more, runs less and doesn’t chase ball anymore. Sam was once a very active and playful dog but now he is content to watch. I saw this in Bert in his final years.

Right now, I would have to say that Sam will live at least until next Summer. Sam is a hardcore survivor of Hell. He’s been through much worse than most people realize is out there. Sam has hung on when there was no reason to think things would or could get better.

Sam is a lesson in endurance and resiliency.  I hope you never have to learn it the way Sam did.

Take Care,

Mike

8 comments:

  1. My dachshund, Oscar, is also aging. He's 10 years old, and his face has gone gray, as well as his paws. He doesn't play like he used to, and since I also have a new 1-year-old girl dog, he doesn't like for her to play bitey face with him. Rambo is 8 years old, but hasn't really slowed down any.

    I really dread the day I lose Oscar, because I've never lost a dog before. I've had numerous cats through the years that have died from old age or something associated with advanced age. It's always difficult to lose a beloved pet, but I think losing Oscar will be truly hard on not only me, but my sisters. He was my step-dad's dog...so Oscar is the last link my family has to John.

    And Oscar has the sweetest disposition...passive with other dogs, content to be last in the pack. Even when Muffin arrived, Oscar never challenged her. Rambo quickly asserted himself over Muffin, but Oscar just took it all in stride. It is so interesting to observe different dogs personalities...which sounds weird, but honestly they DO have their distinct personality.

    --Cara

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    1. Cara, I've never met a dog that was just like any other. Bert and Sam lived together for eleven years and they were like night and day. Lucas was raised with them both and favors neither. Lillith is an independent little lady who follows none of the male mutts.

      I love this trait in dogs!

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  2. My old dog sounds a lot like Sam. I got her from the pound over 13 years ago. She was very sick and they were getting ready to put her down, but there was something about this mutt that spoke to me. I nursed her back from the brink, and she turned out to be the best dog I've ever had, and that's in a long string of good dogs. She's old now, moves slowly, and is starting to lose her hearing. She, too, had a rough start in life, but the next 13 years I think more than made up for it. Good dogs leave their mark on you. The only bad thing is that they just don't last long enough.

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    1. No, John, they do not.

      What's your dog's name?

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    2. Her name is Lucy, and she seems to be a cross between an Australian Sheppard and who-knows-what. In reasonably good health for now other than a bit of arthritis and hearing loss. But she's reached the age where she sleeps more and more -- definitely slowing down. If all goes well she might make it another year or so, but you never know. This dog has seen me through a lot of things. It's not easy seeing a good dog get old.

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    3. Thank you, John. I once knew a really good dog named Lucy. Polar Bear looking Great Pyrenees dog. She had the body of a bruin and the heart of a saint.

      I lost Sam's brother last year. Bert was a dog that got me through some really hard time.

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  3. I know how Sam feels. I wonder if he'd prefer the other two to go out first?

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    1. I think so, Bruce. I think Sam is trying to cheat Death as long as he possibly can.

      He should have died 12 years ago.

      I think Sam wants to live for no other reason than to live.

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