Fourteen was my favorite number until today. Fifteen will be for the next 12 months.
Today is Finn’s birthday. The dog-who-no-longer-shall-be-named-HotFudgeSundae (I know I know. I laugh every single time I type it) has turned 14 years old.
The last year has been an eventful one for the guy — amplification of the gradual changes that began about 24 months ago. I am 99% sure that he cannot hear anything in the human voice range (there is still 1% of me that think it’s still selective hearing). His vision isn’t great in the dark. His peripheral vision is definitely impaired. He sleeps a very deep old dog sleep, and I often pat him awake for the last walk of the day. This is a dog whose ears prickled every time I uttered a word that started with the letter “W”, and made me think that border collies slept with their eyes open.
With these signs of age has come an incredible change. Finn has relaxed. He thinks humans are….pretty awesome. And I think he is truly in a happy place.
My routine has evolved with the new version of Finn. Summer hikes are earlier to make sure we avoid heat, and I pick trails for water features and shade….instead of thinking about my caloric output to complete the hike. We take many rests, and we take in the surroundings. We are now meandering, smelling the flowers with Lucy, taking more photos, looking at rock formations. There are some places on our favorite hikes where I need to give him a bit of a boost, just a little to get to the top of the boulder. At the end of the hike, he is always beside me, still smiling — but as soon as I pick him up and put him in his crate — because he can no longer jump up into the back of my SUV — he takes a long drink of water and then he is out cold. And he snores like an old man, while Lucy looks on.
The cold is tough on him. I have amended my saying to “Real Dogs don’t wear clothes” to “Real Dogs don’t wear clothes….unless they are old and cold”. I am grateful for the fancypants coat that I had gotten for him a while ago (and he used to hate) because it keeps him a bit warmer and his limbs a little less achier as we roam the NYC streets in the winter.
He is still a beautiful dog. Hair is shiny and silky…but his body underneath is lumpy and bumpy that get checked on a regular basis. He hasn’t greyed very much yet….but the white and the tan areas on his tri-colored body are…getting bigger somehow 🙂
Too many of his training contemporaries have passed on…the dogs that connected me to their humans. I can fill half a page with their names. I know too well that I should be cherishing every moment I have with Finn.
Finn is my best buddy. As I write this, he is laying across my feet, his favorite place when he senses that I may not be feeling too well. I reach down and pat him once in a while, and he glances up at me and I swear he is giving me a wink.
Good, dog, Finn. And happy, happy birthday.