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A Free Dog Story: Life with My Old Dog

Updated on April 16, 2013
Razz as a young dog
Razz as a young dog | Source

The Benefits of Dog Ownership

As I begin to write, a soft, graying head leans lovingly against my stomach and a tail beats an even rhythm against the computer printer.

There is nothing to compare with the grace, beauty and loyalty of an old dog.

For 12 years, my terrier mix, Razz, has been my faithful companion. He came to me at eight weeks old, filled with fleas and worms - a victim of a heartless and cold sub-human who left him and his two sisters to die on a highway near Oklahoma City. Found by a good Samaritan, I purchased him for six dollars, and my return on the dollar has been immeasurable. I soon discovered his intelligence was beyond compare. He learned quickly and became an indispensable part of my life.

In the lonely days after college before I found friends and a mate, I only had Razz. I would come home from my new job as a newspaper reporter in a small Southeast Kansas town to a furry, six-month old puppy who was so excited to see me that it seemed his skin wouldn't be able to contain his exuberance. In the evening, he would sit quietly and listen to my stories of the day. We would spend weekends together traipsing through the countryside, learning about our new surroundings.

As time passed in the small town, I developed friends. One of these friends became very interested in me. This friend couldn't have animals in his apartment, and he often came over to my apartment with the expressed purpose of petting and playing with my dog. The fact was, he was using my dog to spend time with me. As friends, we spent hours together, the three of us, strolling down the sidewalks of the town, getting to know each other.

Soon, the three of us became four with the addition of a cat, and after a wedding ceremony, we all lived happily together in that Southeast Kansas town. We learned that Razz was an excellent watch dog and mouser. We still spent leisure time with our dog, walking through the fields and dirt roads near our rented country home.

Razz playing with his favorite toy, a basketball. He continued to play with the toy even as he got older.
Razz playing with his favorite toy, a basketball. He continued to play with the toy even as he got older. | Source
Razz and the author on a park outing.
Razz and the author on a park outing. | Source

Then Razz and the cat moved with us to Kansas City and a new life. Three years later, a move to Massachusetts taught me that my dog detests snow. Three years after that, a move back to a rural Southeast Kansas town gave my dog the chance to again enjoy the country. Then another move back to Kansas City. And then later, a move back to Oklahoma City to complete a full circle for Razz. This should be the last move for our widely traveled terrier mix.

As is the way with all animals, age is beginning to show in the old pup. This is very distressing. My dog has seen me through times of loneliness and times of celebration. He has never failed to be the companion, the protector, the friend. And I am all too aware of the limits of his lifespan slowly creeping upon me.

Although puppies are irresistibly cute, I think the joy of ownership of a dog is at its peak when a dog is past his "prime." An old dog has an innate understanding of his owners. I hardly have to voice commands to our terrier anymore. He automatically knows my desires for his behavior. And he can read my moods, knowing exactly how to comfort when I am in physical or emotional distress. He knows the rules of the house, and how they are best obeyed. He knows how to look endearing to get the most attention. He knows how best to sit when cuddling next to me for a time of hugs.

In short, he has learned over 12 years how best to be my dog. And the thought of my future loss is almost beyond bearing.

So, after consultation with his veterinarian, I have decided to find Razz a sister - a little terrier to follow in the footsteps of her big brother. To learn from him, and perhaps gather, in her own way, some of his wisdom from his lifetime of learning.

I do not expect the new pup to be a Razz copy. No one can heap such expectations upon another living thing. She will take my heart with her own ways and her own personality. Still, I do hope she can learn from her brother a few of the tricks of the trade.

And someday, when she is old, she can instill in yet another puppy some of the skills taught to her by the master - Razz - on how best to be my dog.

Comments

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  • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

    Kristin Kaldahl 

    5 years ago

    Isn't it true that our dogs can become so bonded to us that they do understand our feelings. Your spaniel sounds like he was a wonderful dog.

  • sallybea profile image

    Sally Gulbrandsen 

    5 years ago from Norfolk

    This reminds me of a rather special Spaniel I had. He was my greatest fan as was I his, so sensitive to my feelings and simply said, 'the best dog in the world!!.

  • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

    Kristin Kaldahl 

    5 years ago

    Excellent!!! I'll drop by and read them. :)

  • Andy McGuire profile image

    Andy McGuire 

    5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

    Forgot to update you, my 2 pet articles are up and approved, ready for the world to read and laugh.

  • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

    Kristin Kaldahl 

    5 years ago

    It was a great idea Rebecca. The new girl helped me through Razz's death, and she kept him acting younger for many years. :) Thanks for dropping by.

  • rebeccamealey profile image

    Rebecca Mealey 

    5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

    I think finding Razz a sibling was a great idea. When my last dog was age 14, I got 2 new kittens. They helped me make it through her death a year later!

  • Andy McGuire profile image

    Andy McGuire 

    5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

    I will tell the tale of Max, it will probably be my next article and it will, of course be bursting with looney humor and heart.

    I am also going to write about Shredder, the cat I had from kittenhood to 21 years old, who was the unflappable James Bond of cats. Seriously, nothing ever bothered that cat's zen.

    Thanks again for the inspiration!

  • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

    Kristin Kaldahl 

    5 years ago

    Thank you for dropping by, Winterfate!!!

  • Winterfate profile image

    Darrin Perez 

    5 years ago from Puerto Rico

    Beautiful hub! I have an old dog myself. :(

    They sure grow on you. :o

    Thanks for this hub!

  • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

    Kristin Kaldahl 

    5 years ago

    You should write about Max. You probably saved his life by fighting to keep him. Dogs with behavior issues in shelters struggle to find homes. His story could help others. I'm glad it all worked out with Max, and I'm sorry you lost him. Razz is gone now too. It's very hard to lose our furred kids, but their unconditional love sticks with us for our lifetimes.

  • Andy McGuire profile image

    Andy McGuire 

    5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

    Great story! I am going to repost this in the forums. I had a dog named Max for 16 years and at one point my family wanted to get rid of him because he barked too much and didn't get along with my dad. I simply wouldn't have that and I fought tooth and nail to keep him and it all worked out. A few years ago, he got a cancerous lump and had to be put down. I made the choice to stay in the room with him and held him in my arms as they injected him. He went limp in my arms and got heavy, VERY heavy.

    I have NEVER cried harder in my life.

    Our pets are not our property, they are our family. They are our friends. Your tale has inspired me to write the full story of Max at some point in the near future.

  • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

    Kristin Kaldahl 

    5 years ago

    Thank you midget!!! Yes, I still used lessons learned from Razz every day with my dogs, and even in general life. Thanks for dropping by and sharing. :)

  • midget38 profile image

    Michelle Liew 

    5 years ago from Singapore

    A salute and tribute to Razz. This was so touching. Dogs can teach us so much, and are such great examples of loyalty and sincerity for us...it's a shame that their lives are too short. Thanks for sharing, and I pass this on.

  • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

    Kristin Kaldahl 

    6 years ago

    Thank you Jaye!!! I'm pleased you dropped by to read. :)

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 

    6 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Wonderful story, and I love the photos of Razz!

  • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

    Kristin Kaldahl 

    6 years ago

    Thank you so much, Peg. Our furred family are so important. I appreciate you dropping by!!!

  • PegCole17 profile image

    Peg Cole 

    6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

    This was a beautiful story of the joy that pets bring to our lives. I could feel every phase with you; several of my own have shared these essential parts of my life. You were able to tell the story in a heartwarming day that was uplifting despite your loss. I offer my condolences and thank you for sharing the story of Razz. He will live in our hearts now, too.

  • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

    Kristin Kaldahl 

    6 years ago

    I bet with that cross, she's an outstanding farm dog!! Cute name, too. :) Thanks for dropping by.

  • Beata Stasak profile image

    Beata Stasak 

    6 years ago from Western Australia

    Congratulations on your nomination, have Russel/Border Collie cross at home, her name is Ziggy and she is a great farm dog:)

  • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

    Kristin Kaldahl 

    6 years ago

    I'm so honored to receive a Hubnugget nomination!! The other nominees are all so fantastic. Thank you!

  • ripplemaker profile image

    Michelle Simtoco 

    6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

    That was the best six dollars indeed :D Thanks for sharing Razz with us.

    Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. This link will take you there https://hubpages.com/community/Hubnugget-Wars love and blessings to wonderful treasures of the heart.

  • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

    Kristin Kaldahl 

    6 years ago

    He was a funny and quite intelligent dog. I think he was a Jack Russel/Border Collie cross. What a nut!! Thanks for dropping by!!!

  • profile image

    DoItForHer 

    6 years ago

    Razz made me laugh and it was only his picture! I bet you could hardly get anything done in public with such a cutie :)

  • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

    Kristin Kaldahl 

    6 years ago

    Thanks Patty and Linda!!! Razz is gone now, but he was a wonderful guy.

  • lindalou1963 profile image

    Linda 

    6 years ago from Texas

    Wonderful hub, thanks for posting!

  • Patty Kenyon profile image

    Patty Kenyon 

    6 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

    Beautiful Story!! Thanks for sharing!!!

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