Tag Archive | loving old dogs


Stellar giving me a kiss in 2010 at Auntie’s house. I’m grateful for all these old pictures of Stellar. I can’t find the exact one I’m looking for tonight, but I’m enjoying the search. I’m grateful for digital archives!

Arrg! Dogs keep on teaching me that “Patience only begins when you run out of it.” My best boy ever did two bad things today, after a lifetime of never doing either. I did lose my patience, briefly. The first time, when I caught him with his face in the bag of new dog food, I just chuckled, nudged him away, and clipped it shut. We had had a great day outside, more putting the garden to bed, pulling up, cutting back, raking, while he napped comfortably wherever he chose to.

He hadn’t eaten too much–I remembered Knobbydog, who was shut in a shed for a couple of hours one time, to keep him separate from some fightful ranch pitbulls: he ate an entire 40 pound bag of kibble, was shaped like a barrel and sick for days–no, Stellar had only eaten a cup or two, I think. But still, it’s a new food, and an abrupt transition can cause…er…digestive distress.

I’m grateful for Rosemary maple glazed roasted chicken

Not much more than an hour later, I set down my wooden bowl with a chicken thigh, turned my back for seconds to adjust his bed pads, and caught him snarfing the whole thigh in one gulp–NO!! I yelled, lunged, pried open his mouth and stuck my hand down his throat. Gone. Fuck! Fucking fuck! I yelled, Bad dog! Yep, I lost my temper. I ran out of patience. The thoughts that flashed through my mind! I wasn’t upset about losing the chicken thigh (unlike Raven’s breadloaf incident), I was worried: chicken bone, gut puncture, horrible painful death…. But as soon as I realized he’d swallowed the thigh whole, no crunched bone, I let go of that worry. And a ghost of Dr. Vincent’s voice reassuring me that a bone couldn’t pass undigested through their guts. There was nothing I could do anyway.

Then, it was over. A flash in the pan. I was in the kitchen washing my hands, and he had gone to sit shamefacedly on his bed. I cut off the other chicken thigh, took my bowl back to the table, sat and quietly enjoyed my dinner; gave him last bite as usual, and some good pats, and it was over. This is so new to me, to experience a sudden strong emotion, like the combination of fear and rage this evening, and then be able to let it go. And have it really, truly be gone.

He is so hungry all the time since this new medication regime. At least I’m not having anymore trouble getting pills into him! But he wants to eat all the time. He’s never been a highly food-motivated dog, that was his sister Raven (and the Knobbyheaded Dog). Now he’s a food-seeking missile. I don’t mind feeding him more, I just don’t want him to eat too much!

I know… what could go wrong at this point? Fretting about what might happen is a waste of energy that I simply don’t have these days. Surrender. He is such a gooood boy. What will tomorrow bring? More patience, I’m sure of that. I’m grateful for patience.

Stellar on my lap a decade ago at cousin Melinda’s house. He was almost four.

Stellar’s Last Days: Stretching

I’m grateful for another mild day to permit Boyz Lunch, grateful Stellar is still here to delight John, grateful to see how happy these two are to see each other.

I feel like a new mother. I spend an hour lying on the floor with him, soothing him to sleep, and then I roll over, get up, and go in the kitchen to do dishes, or wrap another set of pills for him, or take my own night pills, and I turn around and he’s there behind me, panting, hungry, wanting, needing. His appetite is insatiable these days. His energy is greater than mine. His confusion is increasing. His mobility looks good when people come around, and they say He’s doing great! But they see him at his best, alert with steroids, and the excitement of their attention. When it’s just the two of us, he stumbles a lot more; when we walk through the woods, his back legs frequently tangle and stretch out behind him, and he hops on his front legs for a few steps, dragging his back legs on the tops of his feet.

He remains the most beautiful creature I have ever known, and I’m grateful for all that he has taught me and continues to teach me about unconditional love. At the same time that I’m exhausted, that it’s a kind of torture to watch his up and down decline, I’m grateful for each day that he wakes alert and eager for a walk, that his eyes follow me around the house, that I get to spend time in the evening lying beside him massaging his muscles, holding his pressure points, feeling his pulses, hearing his breath, looking into those trusting brown eyes, loving this soul that has never let me down.

Though I have whinged a bit recently about the extra work entailed in caring for his infirmities, I’m grateful each day for the accommodations and adaptations I’m able to make, in order to make his last days more comfortable, and to be more at ease with him, and a little less precious about meself. I’m grateful for stretching my capacities for acceptance and compassion. I’m grateful for this ongoing surrender in service to another sentient being, a being as worthy of my regard as any other.

I’m also grateful today for wrapping up the canning season with the last batch of salsa, at last! Grateful, too, that a few tomatoes remain ripe and ready for sandwiches and cooking, and a few more green tomatoes ripen in a basket and on hanging vines, to carry me another month or so with fresh fruits. I’m grateful for a bountiful harvest this year that will provide nutritious homegrown food through winter, as well as a few gifts for friends and family. I’m grateful to live in this little mud hut in the woods, with a good dog, a sweet cat, a quiet tortoise, a garden, friends, and solitude. Above all I give thanks.

Little Rocky

I’m grateful I rescued this little fella a dozen or so years ago from an untenable situation; grateful Pamela suggested a new person for him; grateful Deborah wanted him. I’m grateful he’s been in my life since then, and feels comfortable and safe at my home, and gets along with all the animals here. I’m grateful he enjoyed his week here, and grateful his mama came home safely to pick him up this evening. I’m grateful for his exceptional example of the skill of relaxation.

Old Dogs

I’m grateful that the two old men dogs were both eager and able to walk to the canyon this morning. It was a beautiful cool time, with sun beaming below encroaching rainclouds. And then eventually it rained off and on for a few hours. I am grateful for ongoing hand therapy, and grocery shopping, and new glasses lenses even if they’re not perfect. I made someone feel bad this afternoon, and I feel bad about that, and I’m grateful that the recognition arose in me once again that it feels even better sometimes to be kind than to be right. Now I can work on that tendency.

I’m grateful for the baking accoutrements I’ve acquired over the years, and also for the skills I’ve acquired through learning and practice. Both in baking, and in how I treat myself and other people. But it does take practice. It might only take two or three crusts to master this lattice roller, but it seems to take lesson after lesson, year after year, to learn to bite my tongue and be kind when I feel annoyed or put upon.

I’m grateful for apples in the freezer from last year’s harvest, pre-mixed with sugar and cinnamon, ready to go in the crust; and grateful that I’ve learned to mix pastry in the cuisinart instead of with the old-fangled pastry cutter or my hands. Pie is so much easier!

I’m really grateful that animals are so easy to love and experience compassion for, no cultivation needed; it just comes naturally to me. Grateful for all the time in my life that I’ve been able to spend with animals, wild and tame; grateful for how whole and open my heart feels with them. I’m grateful for the insight that softens my heart daily: We’re all gonna die. I’m grateful for old dogs.


Four inches of fresh snow this morning was mostly melted by midday. I’m grateful for spring snows, which bring lots of moisture, and very little stress compared to winter snows, knowing there’s no need to shovel or plow because it will melt soon enough. Grateful Stellar was able to walk this morning.

I’m grateful for resilience, his and mine. Stellar slid into another bout of inexplicable diarrhea that started yesterday morning but wasn’t conclusively an issue until after dark, as usual. Why does it always strike them at night?

I’m grateful that I remembered the potty pads I keep for Biko, and remembered my brilliant idea of a sheet path to the door in time to protect the rugs, and had a brand new case of paper towels on hand to line the path for the next run(s). I stayed up late monitoring the situation, then had to get up a few times in the night to let him out and clean up. I’m grateful I had Imodium in the medicine cabinet from the Shitstorm a year ago, grateful I remembered it was there, grateful it seems to have settled things by midday.

I’m grateful I had brown rice in the pantry, and a box of organic chicken broth, so I could fill his tummy and keep him hydrated.

I’m grateful for mindfulness practice every day, but especially today. Under the tender tutelage of Mindful Life Program founders Mark and Laura since last summer, I’ve been learning more about meditation, motivation, and meaning than I have in all my years of casual study and dedicated interest. I’ve begun to fully embody qualities like patience and compassion, which may come easily to some people but have taken me years of practice. I keep my attention trained, for the most part, on what matters, and don’t let my mind drag me off into what ifs or if onlys.

In this way, I was able to remain calm as the gravity of this episode sunk in, recognizing that it’s happened before, we got through it before, and he was just fine (as fine as possible with his bad back end) before; that it was likely it would resolve in a couple of days and we’d go back to our normal, peaceful routine. I was able to accept that this is how it is right now. Further, I had confidence that if all wasn’t well later, and his health took a dark turn, I could handle it. Resilience. So I didn’t fret, I got up when I had to, slept lightly, did what I could do to mitigate mess and cleaned up when necessary, all with unruffled patience and a heart full of unconditional love for my dear companion. I tended and rested through the day, and by evening, all does seem well, neither of us much worse for wear. I’m so grateful that I could hold this unfortunate event in perspective, respond appropriately, and still enjoy many aspects of a quiet, calm snowy Sunday.

While poor Stellar ate gruel, for example, I cooked myself a delicious huevo ranchero, including homemade tortilla, salsa, and hot sauce, and a Bad Dog Ranch happy chicken egg. Resilience allows me to rise to an unfortunate occasion and make the best of what’s left in a day.