I took Lena to the vet this morning to get up-to-date on her vaccines and as she and I sat in the quiet waiting room amongst the other dogs and dogparents, a guy came in with his own black lab mix. The poor thing was going nuts, crying and barking and pulling so hard on the leash she was beginning to strangle herself. She was freaking out and so scared, and I felt both for her and the owner who looked helpless and embarrassed. It reminded me so much of Lena and me, a million years ago. She was always the nervous girl who hated any change in her routine. She puked on every car ride for her first two years, and cried and whined and shouted at me when I'd take her to the groomer or the vet. I was the helpless one, trying in vain to soothe her and wishing so badly she'd understand me when I'd say this will just be uncomfortable for a few minutes! or we're going straight home after this! Even now, when she has a stressful outing, she curls up and sleeps the rest of the afternoon at my feet (she's down there as I write this). It really takes it out of her, my tender little pal.
Now, instead of yelling at me at the vet she just leans on me and gently shakes. Our girl is slowing down so much. Her aging has thrown a wrench into all of our routines. Our big hikes have turned into strolls around the block. We have a lot of stairs in our house and they've begun to give her trouble too. Just a couple weeks ago, her back legs started to give her some grief. I catch her now staring up at the stairs, getting the nerve to take the journey. She's usually okay, taking them slowly: front-foot-front-foot, back-foot-back-foot, but a couple times I've heard small, heartbreaking crashes where she started the climb and then fell a couple steps in. And then she'll stand at the bottom looking up, deciding if she's gonna try again. The other day I said, "Go on, you can do it!" and she went. It was amazing. Sometimes a little encouragement is all we need.
When I left the vet's office, the freaked out guy with the freaked out dog was in the parking lot. He had taken her outside to give her a talking to and she was like, "I don't know what you want from me! I can't take it in there!" I passed them and opened my car door for Lena to jump up. She only got halfway in before she looked back and waited for me to hoist her tail end into the back seat. He must've seen us.
"Getting older?" The man asked.
"Yup," I said. "So is my dog."
"It'll get easier." I said, nodding to his baby.
"I hope you're right."As a woman with no children, it sounds a little small to say "It goes so fast" about your dog, but it does. Life goes so fast. We have to extend a little encouragement to ourselves and others so we can enjoy it to the last drop.
P.S. For Christmas I gave DP a bunch of printed Instagram photos from Social Print Studio. Aren't they lovely?