Aging sucks, plain and simple.
Yesterday my heart was breaking; it was breaking because Luke fell into the gutter and couldn't get up. I had my hands full with Luke and Elsa's leashrs when she hopped over him and got stuck midway. The leash wrapped around his legs faster than I could react and he was down. The horrible thing about going down on the concrete is the hit on his poor old bones. I let out some not so lady like words and helped him to his feet. He seemed to shake it off better than I did and went on his way. Writing this blog now nearly a day later and I'm still upset about the memory of him laying there. I'm trying to be more like Luke and forget it, but it is difficult.
I am feeling like a human shield for him now; when we go out and hang with younger dogs. He simply cannot take a hit; I won't let it happen. Funny, a year ago things were very different. Luke was the buff guy in the house. I had to keep my eye out for Tilley falling. She was not frail like Luke, she was crooked from her Vestibular disease. But every so often she'd forget about it and try to run like the good old days. It never ended well and I learned to run and catch before she hit the ground.
When we added Elsa to the group I had to watch Tilley constantly. She wanted to keep up with Elsa and I caught her several times jumping up onto the lounge outside just before she took a nose dive. As our dogs age their age catches up with them; speeding the process exponentially. The older they get, the quicker they age. At 6 and 7 years of age; six months goes by without any notice. Now at 12 years old, 6 months brings with it a big change. It's a change that I hate and more evident with a young'n around like Elsa. Seeing her take a spill from sheer over excitement is nothing at her age. She can take a major wipe out; get up, shake and keep going like nothing happen just to do it again.
Recently it seems that Luke has been very precise with his play. Every so often he is careless but not so much anymore. There are two things happening here that play into the change. 1. Luke is aging much more quickly now, and 2. Elsa is much stronger, flexible and agile than ever before. The difference between the two is growing on a daily basis and it is sad. When I had Jessie, Tilley and Luke the difference was not as vast. 15.5, 14.5 and 11 is much different than 12 and 1.
As I enjoyed the day photographing dogs at the beach the other day I realized that Luke could not have been there. I have no doubt that he would be injured by other younger, more rambunctious dogs than he, now. So if we return to that particular beach it will just be Elsa and I. This is the part where you have to go with your head and try to ignore your heart that is being gnawed on a daily basis.
As hard as it is to watch the aging process; I feel lucky to have him with me and pretty darned healthy albeit too skinny and frail. But there is nothing I can do about the frail part, it is a fact of life. He was dealt with very little muscle and now at this time in his life he will suffer for someone's error in breeding. He has a heart of gold and is the most amazing dog. He takes great joy in the little things in life; it is a great way to be. I have learned so much from Luke over the years we've spent together and I will continue to learn more. He still loves to run for a bit and then he is happy to smell the roses and look for lizards.
After a life of watching out for his Mom it is now my turn to watch out for my boy. It's our job and I wouldn't want anyone else doing my job. We care for them their whole life but as they age there is more care, more protectiveness and more concern. When I got Luke to his feet yesterday morning after falling into the street; I wrapped my arms around him and took his weight in my arms. Those poor little legs of his are having a tough time lately; I held his weight for him for a bit and then we got ourselves together.
Luke is 12 years and 2 months old. The next year will bring much more change than ever before for Luke; but I am more than prepared for it all. It seems like yesterday that I was hovering around Tilley whenever we were around other dogs. Watching as the aging process took over more and more of Tilley and Jessie's lives seems like only yesterday. But it is Luke now that needs a hand to get to his feet when his old legs struggle. Now my baby of 11 years is in the thick of his golden years. We'll be enjoying the heck out of these ones.