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Miles’ 14th Birthday

Miles, my sweet and stalwart companion, turned 14 on August 19th. He is 73 in miniature poodle years. I will turn 72 on August 27th, so we are almost the same age. And yet I feel in such better shape than he seems to be.

I worry about him all the time. He is covered with lypomas (fatty tumors) and seems to get another new one weekly. I feel like they impede his movements, though I’m told they do not. He struggles both to lie down and to get up from lying down, both of which he does many times a day, as he follows me around the house. He seems to have trouble finding a comfortable place to lie, as well. I give him three different medications for his aches and pains. Do they help? At all?? I can’t see it, if so.

And he is the younger of my two dogs. He seems to have gone from hale and hearty to OLD in a very short time.

On his 5th birthday

Such is the heartbreak of loving animals. Their lives are just too short.

For his birthday I gave him extra canned food for breakfast, carried treats in my pocket for our walk, and since he loves other dogs, took him to the dog park so he could meet lots of them. And then later, he had presents to open. He loves opening packages. All fine enough. But I watched all those young, fit dogs running and swimming, having a wonderful time, and wished that my darling Miles could join them and have that kind of fun, himself.

I have accepted my own aging much better than I have his. I’ve slowed down, too, but I really am doing fine. I can walk much farther than he can and do just about anything I really want to do. I rather enjoy calling myself an Old Lady and I’m even, mostly, proud of it. Oh, I worry about my brain sometimes, but my body still serves me well. His? Not so much. And he can’t talk or joke about it. He can’t say, “Oh, I’m fine. I really am fine. Don’t you worry your tiny little (old) brain about it.”

And Rufus, with his terrible history as a stray, the broken leg, his heart murmur, spinal stenosis, and Addison’s disease, well, of course I understand why he has issues. And he has done very well, considering. So I can accept this and actually feel grateful for how well he has done for all these years.

So this thing of acceptance with no strings attached? There, I’m stuck. The Buddha taught that fighting against the realities of life creates suffering. I am here to say, “Okay, Buddha! You’re right!”

You, reader, might be expecting a possibly uplifting conclusion right about now. I’m not sure what it can be, other than that I will just keep trying to accept what is, as we all must, even for those innocent Others. I’ll love on Miles and do what I can do for him. And try to practice acceptance.

“You think those dogs will not be in heaven! I tell you they will be there long before any of us.”― Robert Louis Stevenson

“All his life he tried to be a good person. Many times, however, he failed. For after all, he was only human. He wasn’t a dog.”― Charles M. Schulz

“A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things–a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.”― John Grogan, Marley and Me

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. If you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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