Old dog face
What is it that changes in a dog’s face that suddenly makes her look old? Is it the lightening around her muzzle? Or, the increasing milkiness of her eyes? Or, is it the way she smiles, flashing that toothy grin at us?
What is it that we first notice? Is it a moment or an accumulation of moments? It seems like one day we are looking at our dog and seeing a young and energetic face, and the next day we see an old one in its place. It always seems like a surprise to me when I finally see it.
A couple of months ago, I took a candid shot of Cupcake standing out on the patio. What I saw on my camera’s viewing screen made me stop and stare. “Wait. What happened?” I thought, “That doesn’t look like Cupcake. That looks like an old dog.” And it was. It was my Cupcake, in all her glory and beauty, as an old dog.
It was as if all the little pieces of the puzzle (her diminished eyesight, her inability to hear me calling her in the dog park, and her slowing, arthritic pace) coalesced in that moment to magnify and make me realize what I had not seen (or wanted to see) before. Cupcake was a senior citizen. She was an old dog. What a revelation.
Of course, I’ve known that she was getting older (as have all of us), I just didn’t SEE it. My brain had continued to live in the past while life (and Cupcake) continued to move forward. I guess my brain just needed a jolt to see her as she really is now.
Seeing her as an older dog hasn’t changed how much I lover her, if anything I love her even more, but it has made me more conscious of the subtle changes in her behavior and when she is not feeling well. It has also made me more conscious of her ability to get around. Getting up and down on the hardwood floors is a little more difficult now. Keeping the fur in between her toes cut short helps with that (as do rugs). Tripping over the bottom step when coming in does happen on occasion, but lighting the step with my iPhone helps. And I may have to lift her into the car for the rest of her remaining days, but I don’t care. The joy she gets when we reach our destination is worth it all.
Seeing Cupcake’s old dog face was a good thing. It woke me up and made me treasure our special moments all the more.
And you know what? She is still just as beautiful, sweet and strong as she was when she first came to join our family. I love her face no matter how old she gets to be.