From the series: Life on Dog Hill
A couple of mornings ago I woke from a terrible dream. My sweet collie Sandy lay dead at the bottom of a small, clear pond. In the dream I was walking on a path and just happened to look into the water on my right and that’s when I saw her. My heart broke and I choked back sobs as I leaned over the rocks to look at her laying in the bottom of the shallow pool, her hair gently swaying about her.
Then I realized how beautifully at peace she looked, as if she were comfortably sleeping. With an elderly dog, peace and comfort is always at the forefront of my mind — even in my sleep.
Sandy is an 11-year old rescue who was discarded after she could no longer breed. Taken in by the Collie Rescue of the Carolinas, she came to live on Dog Hill about six years ago. Though still young by dog standards at the time of her rescue, she could hardly walk up and down stairs. Spending her life in a crate as a breeder, without adequate exercise, had interfered with her muscle development. With time, however, she strengthened and came to manage the stairs quite well until about a year ago. It’s been a slow decline ever since…
I love Sandy dearly — she’s obedient, gentle and has the sweetest brown eyes that melt my heart. But she’s showing signs that her time is near and those eyes now often look anxious and teary. I’ve seen it so many times before with elderly canine companions. It’s a reminder for me that now is the time she needs my love most.
- She struggles to get up, so I’m bending down to lift her.
- She’s sometimes incontinent, even though on medication, so I’m frequently cleaning her to keep her smelling sweet.
- She can’t see very well and is afraid to go outside if it’s dark, so I’m extra patient with her.
- She cries during the night, even though she takes Rimadyl for pain, so sometimes we have middle-of-the-night petting sessions.
Yes, it’s true that my pretty girl is feeling the strain of her years upon her but there are still happy moments.
- Her ears still perk up at feeding time!
- She willingly walks with me to the end of the street to meet my youngest son as he gets off the bus.
- She still makes Chewbacca sounds when I scratch her ears.
For me, loving the elderly dog is easy — even when caring for them requires a great deal more effort. I’m grateful to share this time and space with Sandy and am mindfully focused on making whatever time we have left as “peaceful” for her as possible.
I hope you enjoy this short clip I made a few months ago with four of our five dogs. You’ll recognize my sweet Sandy right away. Her canine siblings include two other rescues: another beautiful collie named Toby and a three-legged min-pin, Chippy. The fourth is our Westie, Blizzard. If you’re wondering why the fifth dog (also a rescue) isn’t tagging along, it’s because he’s a late sleeper and was still in bed with his human (and my son) Alex!
Learn more about the Collie Rescue of the Carolinas and my heroine Jean, who travels all over to bring collies into a safe and caring environment while providing veterinary care before placing them into forever homes. Please consider a monetary donation for this amazing effort!