Grit Blogs > Loagan Ranch

The Value of an Old Dog

By Elizabeth Furry


Tags: Dogs, Pets,

A photo of Elizabeth FurryThirteen years ago, our family was complete (almost) – we had our third child, we lived in a house with a good sized yard – we were living comfortably and life was good. It was only natural to look at our kids and say, “We need to get them a dog!” In my humble opinion, I think all kids need a dog. It seems almost as natural as fireworks on the 4th of July.

So one spring day Matt and I headed out to find our girls a dog, a great dog, a dog that would be the perfect fit for our family. And that’s exactly what happened. We decided that we wanted a black lab, and when we went to pick it out, it was perfectly easy to know which dog was ours. Of all the pups in the litter, our girl was the fattest, rolliest, polliest one there, and no matter how many times she got distracted with her siblings by running off, she would quickly stop and return to me and jump in my lap. Sold! Done and done!

So we drove our lil pork chop home to meet the girls. They were 1, 3 and 5 at the time, and as expected the house filled with high pitched screams – it was enough to make the pup take off running down the hall.

We gave Matt the honor of naming her, he said it had to be manly enough that when he called her in the house at night he wouldn’t sound ridiculous saying, “Here snooky” or “Here fluffy.” It had to be manly, even though she was a she. So he decided on plain ol’ “Dog.” Done and done.

The problem with buying a cute, adorable, fluffy puppy, is that you never really think about 10, 12, 13 years down the road. You don’t really think about your dog getting grey around the muzzle, slowing down a bit each time they get up to eat, or having a hard time hearing you when you call their name. You are just so smitten with their cuteness and deep precious eyes, that is … until they eat all of your wicker patio furniture like it was a bag of potato chips or chew one of your favorite boots up, but you still wear them because the other one is in perfect condition and by golly you are gonna get some use out of ’em!

Well somewhere along the way, that puppy grows up and finds the rhythm of the family. She knows that after nap time your 3-year-old will want a pony ride on her and when the baby falls off and cries, the dog will look at you with a worried glance that she did something wrong. You tell her, “It’s ok Dog,” and she wags her tail. She’ll know when she’s been a good dog and when she’s been bad – like when you find your missing chicken in the backyard with its head gone – that makes her a BAD dog.

Years continue to pass and your loyal dog endures everything that the family does. Moving six states away? There’s your dog sitting in the back seat patiently waiting for that next backyard. She knows when to expect the kids home, and she knows when dad will be sitting in his chair, because she is right there waiting for him. She knows when the kids are sick because she sits by their bed and gets nervous with each cough.

She doesn’t get thrilled with the idea of bringing a new puppy home either. I mean she just finally got on the cats good side after all.

Dog and cats

But she trusts your decision and after awhile will take the pup on as her own lil’ mentor project. It’s not her ideal job but somebody has to do it.

Old dog and a new puppy

Eventually only two things matter to her, food and family. And so that’s how it is. Before you know it, you are 13 years down the road with your faithful dog. She lets you know when it’s time for her to go, even though she still wants to hang on for the family, after all she is a worrier, and she’s never liked seeing any of you cry. You hate the decision you have to make, but you know you can’t bear to see her suffer one more second. You tell yourself you’re not gonna cry, but you do because you know she was huge part of your family, she helped raise the kids, she knows all their secrets they’ve whispered in her ears. You cry because you know she was more loyal to you and your family than you were to her. She loved the family unconditionally, despite the cat or the new puppy or when you dressed her as Batman for Halloween. That’s what good dogs do … and that’s the value of an old dog.

allen vicki cochrane
10/26/2012 11:31:43 PM

I am wanting to chat with one who has been through this process of telling Sophie how much joy she has brought to my Sweetie and me. We got her as a new puppy as my Darlin' was trying to recover from a PTSD Breakdown. She has been his dog for every minute we have shared for 13 years. I don't know if we should get a puppy or if we have to put her down, at what point do you do that? The Vet told us "When she stops enjoying being a Dog" It is one of the hardest goodbyes of either of our lives. Bless you and the new adventure you are on.


karin gee
1/23/2012 9:00:33 PM

Ms. Furry, your last paragraph says it all...


elizabeth_1
2/5/2010 10:04:04 PM

thank you all for your kind words! For all of you that have lost a pet or will soon be facing the sad goodbye~ you have my prayers. It's so hard. Nebraska Dave, you must the biggest blessing to your neighbors! It's always difficult to find a trustworthy person to take care of pets when you go away (especially us with 24 horses!!) God bless you!! Elizabeth Loagan Ranch


lori
2/3/2010 2:41:42 PM

Elizabeth, I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your beautiful dog. We lost our dog a few years back. It's heartbreaking because they are members of the family, but I believe God reserves a special place for our four legged family members!


s.m.r. saia
2/2/2010 2:42:28 PM

This made me cry. I'm sorry about your dog. I have a 14 year old dog whose day is coming. I really feel for you. They can't be replaced. Your new puppy is beautiful. May you have a good many happy and healthy days ahead of you together.


rodeo princess
2/2/2010 10:18:48 AM

I would happily have spent my life as your dog. Well done.


rodeo princess
2/2/2010 10:17:14 AM

I would happily have spent my life as your dog. Well done.


mountain woman
2/2/2010 6:39:07 AM

I'm so sorry to hear about your dog. I have two elderly golden retrievers and they are so much a part of our family. I don't know what I'll do without them when the time comes.


nebraska dave
2/1/2010 9:53:46 PM

Elizabeth, I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. It truly is amazing how those pets can crawl into your heart and love unconditionally all the years of their lives. They are always giving, always waiting for your arrival and yes, they really do have that uncanny knack to know what time it is. I’ve had many dogs over my life time as a kid growing up and with raising my own kids. It really does seem to be a natural thing to have a dog in the family. All my kids are grown and gone and the last dog, John John, finally succumbed to arthritis, bad hearing, no teeth, and weak legs at a grand old age of 15. He was really suffering and, of course, it was my task to take him to vet for the final time. Since I’m back to a family of one, I vowed never to get another pet. After 50 years the house doesn’t have a dog roaming the halls. However, I will watch pets for other people, and do regularly, to get my dog fix. In a way I do have pets, but I only borrow them for a while. They always seem to be glad to come visit cousin Dave for a few days. Not all of them come to my house. The Arabian horses just wouldn’t fit in the living room and I truly doubt the couch would ever recover from a ton of horse flesh sitting on it. This week it’s watching Bailey a little long haired Chihuahua while Mama gets training. May your new pup live long and prosper.


oz girl
2/1/2010 6:30:58 PM

I'm so sorry the time came for your sweet Dog. It looks like you did what I did... got that new puppy before Dog decided to make her exit. My sweet dalmatian boy passed on when my australian shepherd puppy was about 9 months old. We had Trixie for about 7 months while he was still alive... at first they played together, but as his illness progressed, he couldn't be bothered by a young puppy. She knew when to leave him alone. The sadness of that final day was eased so much when I went home, not to an empty house, but to my sweet Trixie, who was ready to take his place. And so she has. In a big way. She's my cuddlebug. May your new puppy help fill the void left by Dog, and start your whole family down a new road of adventures and spunk! :)