He’s deaf, mostly blind and, (I hate to say it) he smells bad. Goopy-eyed and senile, he often barks incessantly for no apparent reason. He’s developed disgusting habits, like sniffing out cat poop for consumption, and he’s prone to accidents in the house. Tangle-ups with his retractable leash have caused three broken bones (mine, not his.) He’s the kind of aging dog that only those of us who have lived with him for sixteen years could love, but love him we do. This is our treasured Sir Winston.
‘Winnie’ may look like an ordinary Springer Spaniel but he has extraordinary talents. He can spit out pills no matter how carefully they are concealed in his favourite food. His ability to spew out liquid medication is legendary. (He once sprayed the living room ceiling, leading us to believe we had a leaky roof. This really stumped the roofer who couldn’t find the source of the ‘leak’.) He has a beautiful smile (yes, dogs can smile) and he still welcomes his favourite humans with a happy dance, despite his old-age stiffness. He shows his devotion to Chanel, the cat, by giving her a full-body ‘lick massage’ whenever she lies prone before him, which is often.
Old dogs aren’t as much fun as young dogs. Our walks around the block are painfully slow. His separation anxiety gets worse each day and finding doggy care for him also grows harder as his idiosyncrasies increase.
But we owe it to Sir Winston to take extra good care of him now. He was the glue that united our family when we all rushing about, pursuing our various interests. Together we chose a springer from all the other breeds and available dogs and together we suffered through his obedience classes (I don’t think any of us actually passed.)
Like all family dogs, Winston’s enthusiasm, love and devotion to us has never wavered, and now it’s our turn to return that to him with extra patience (and treats.) He has long out-lived the average life-span for his breed and knowing that makes this time he has left extra precious.
The following quote by six-year-old ‘Shane’ has made the rounds on social media. It is the best explanation for why dogs live such short lives. Shane says,
“Everybody is born so that they can learn how to live a good life – like loving everybody and being nice, right? Well, animals already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”(Linda Bobo)
Indeed, Shane, Sir Winston has led a good life, loving everybody and being nice.