What an old dog can teach us

Today is Thanksgiving in America. I’m conflicted in how I feel about Thanksgiving, thanks to John Oliver and Last Week Tonight, but I am undoubtedly thankful for a lot of things – my family, my friends, having a job, community, etc. One thing my wife, Michelle, and I are really thankful for is that our nearly 15 year old pug, Loki, is still with us this Thanksgiving.

Loki Resting

Catching some Z’s

Loki Spider

Dressed as a spider

His favorite treat, a giant carrot!

Enjoying his favorite treat, a giant carrot!

As Loki has aged, he’s remained a vibrant character, always living up to his namesake, but time catches up with us all. These changes have taught my wife and I a lot over the years, lessons that we can apply elsewhere in our lives.

About 5 or 6 years ago, Loki lost his hearing. It took us quite a while to catch on! We had taught obedience using verbal and hand signals. A “down” command was accompanied by moving your hand, palm down, toward the floor. As long as Loki was looking at us, he was quite obedient. One day, we went for a walk and on the way back, Loki lost visual contact with Michelle and thought she was behind us. He took off down the street, ignoring our shouts, which was quite alarming. He got in a lot of trouble for that, and we still did not understand the issue for a few days until we said “treat” and he didn’t react – that’s how you know for certain that a dog is deaf! Loki taught us that when someone cannot verbalize their problems, it’s up to you to “listen” to the other signals they send. It’s your fault that you didn’t use the right vocabulary to understand them, and you shouldn’t get mad at them.

A few years later, Loki started having issues with his eyesight. As we had become quite reliant on hand signals since he was deaf, this was problematic! His vision has faded slowly, thanks to some good veterinarian ophthalmologists, but it’s going bit by bit. This has caused some other health issues as he is now prone to scratch his eyes, and we’ve been to the vet more than once for a scratched cornea. The poor guy has to wear a cone when he’s not closely supervised!

Altogether, these vision problems have taught Michelle and I quite a bit. We have to rely on Loki’s sense of touch more often. He may look right at you but not see you, so you have to rely on other senses, such as touching him with your hand or foot to get his attention. If he doesn’t see us, he may run to another room to look for us – and he’s fast! We spend a lot of time chasing him around the house now, trying to get his attention. This has taught us, again, to be patient with him and not get mad. We also have to pay more attention for him and anticipate where he’s heading, as he could run into something that hurts very easily.

Finally, over the summer we discovered an inoperable tumor in Loki’s mouth. Though it’s growing and we can’t do anything about it, you could hardly tell, he’s as feisty as ever. But we realize this could be his last Thanksgiving with us. We’re thankful that he’s still here and we’re hopeful he makes it to his 15th birthday in two weeks and Christmas after that. We’ve learned to spend more time with him than we were before and to enjoy every moment of it!

Loki, thanks for spending so much time with us and for teaching us so much! You’re the best pug anyone could ask for!

One thought on “What an old dog can teach us

  1. Pingback: Newsletter: November 28, 2015 | Notes from MWhite

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