Twilight Years

This morning I noticed a rather strong and disgusting smell in our basement.  It’s not unusual for us to spot the occasional mouse down there once Fall arrives, which my husband promptly dispatches.  (One of perks of being married is having someone else deal with unwanted house guests.)  Judging from the smell, we assumed that one of our mouse visitors must have died down there, so we called in our dog Lucy to help us find it.

Lucy has always been known for her keen sense of smell and her willingness to chase any small furry animal that dares to cross her path.  She came downstairs and obeyed our command to “find it” by sniffing eagerly around the basement walls.  Then she froze in front of the recliner on the family room side of the basement, staring intently underneath it.  “Good dog,” I told her, getting down to peer underneath the chair.  Only to find out that what had caught her attention wasn’t a mouse at all, but her favorite red ball.   I pulled it out and handed it to her, and she trotted off with the satisfied air of a dog who had done her job well.  And just so you know, after she left my husband and I found not one but two dead mice down there, and one of them was very, very, ripe.

img_0034I supposed I should be annoyed with Lucy, or at least disappointed that the dog who used to be able to sniff out a rawhide toy stored on the upper shelf of my closet in two seconds flat seemed to be unable to locate a very pungent rodent carcass.  But Lucy turned fifteen this month and this is just another reminder that she is aging, far more quickly than I would like.

When she first came to live with us, Lucy was eleven-months old and had been turned into the animal shelter as a stray.  Although she seemed quite calm when we picked her out, we quickly discovered that was only because she was still feeling the effects of the anesthesia from her recent spaying.  Lucy was actually a bundle of energy, almost scary-smart, and had very little inclination to follow the household rules.  I suspect most families would have promptly returned her to the shelter from whence she came, but instead we fell in love with her and learned to live with her eccentricities.  For her part, she did learn what “sit,” “stay,” “leave it” and “come” meant, and sometimes she even obeyed those commands.  Later, I added such useful phrases as  “Get off the dining room table!” and “Get your furry butt back in bed!” (spoken at five a.m. on a Saturday morning, when Lucy decided she needed breakfast) to her vocabulary as well.

But for some reason, I didn’t believe that a dog as energetic and smart as Lucy would ever age.  I couldn’t picture her no longer being able to hear anything but the loudest noises, and not even waking up when someone knocks at our door.  I couldn’t fathom a time when she would be willing to substitute a short walk around the block for her usual forty-five minute treks through the neighborhood.  I didn’t envision a time when she would hesitate before climbing a flight of stairs, as if debating whether the effort was worth it.  But all those things, and more, have come true in the past of year or so.

img_0992I know we are now living in Lucy’s twilight years, and that her time with us is drawing to an end.  To my mind, the only thing truly wrong with dogs is that their life spans are far too short.  We may have another year with Lucy, or we may only have another few weeks; we have reached the stage where either is possible.  All that we can do is enjoy the time we have left with our loving, neurotic, and smart little Lucy.  And if that means we have to sniff out our own dead mice, then so be it.

54 thoughts on “Twilight Years

  1. I love your “other” commands. LOL. Yes, they too age, and while sad, we must reflect on the good years we enjoy with our furry friends. My heart hurt so badly when we lost our cat who was 16. They are truly family and we can’t imagine a time where we must live without them. In the meantime…yes, it’s good to be married. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, when our pet dies it leaves a huge whole in our heart for a long time. I’m sorry about your cat! I hate it when people say “it was just an animal.” They may be animals, but our love for them is still very real, and very deep. And yes, having a husband to deal with mice is a good thing! When I was young, I had pet mice, so it bothers me that we have to kill the ones that come inside. But I know if we don’t, they will multiply quickly and create real problems. Fires have been started from them chewing on electrical lines, for instance. I’m lucky my husband isn’t conflicted the way I am!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I loved this post! I guess you can tell that I love, love, love, my dogs and this post touched all the parts of my heart that I have been feeling recently. Each year that my Maggie’s birthday comes around (she was 8 years old this last Monday) I realize, as you said, that she is in her twilight years or at least getting close to them. I find myself shedding some tears as I read your post because my thoughts mirror yours when I think of my Maggie. I am going to enjoy and appreciate every moment and every day that she is still with me. Thank you for such a lovely read!

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    • I know what you mean! The older we get, the faster time goes by. And sadly, I’m at the point in my life where it is just speeding by. I feel that especially when I look at Lucy. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we brought her home!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Lucy is beautiful! She still looks sprite. Maybe she didn’t want to deal with the raw mouse😊. We had a golden retriever, Bailey, who lived to be 17 so you may have more time with Lucy than you think. I hope so.

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    • Oh, Kim, I hope so too! She has declined so much this past year that I honestly don’t know how to read the situation. But our sweet Sandy lived to be 16 1/2, so maybe that will give Lucy something to shoot for. And I agree, Lucy probably knew the mouse was there, but hey, it was dead, so why should she care? What she wanted was her ball……

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  4. Lucy may be set but she’s still a beautiful lady..:)
    Who knows how long she has left but she was very lucky that you found her and took her home. Here’s to many more years..:)
    Now I have to go find a husband, because I hate mice..:)

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  5. An absolutely wonderful post Ann.
    We got our beautiful dog, Cara, from
    Battersea Dogs Home when she was six.
    We had her for eight happy years, until she
    had to be put asleep because of cancer.
    But her memory is still with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This truly made me smile.
    Your Lucy is very adorable!

    My dog is also a rescue. She just turned 9 this summer. We’ve had her since she was 7 months old.

    I too have started seeing subtle changes in her. First her gums (her favorite dog bone treats make her gums bleed now), then her bladder (lots of accidents lately), and finally her endurance (long walks aren’t on her top 10 list anymore).

    I’m glad munchkin came along to keep her vibrant, you should see how they ramp like a couple of rambunctious kids! But I know all too well her time is winding down.

    Great that you’re capturing some of her moments to cherish later as this is a journal in and of itself.

    Best wishes to your lovely Lucy!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What an adorable post Ann, Lucy sounds like she’s been such a joy to have in your life. Enjoy this time with her and all those memories that you’re still making (even the not-so-nice smelly rodent ones). Your post brings back memories of my beloved Bluey who we had for 15 years.

    Even our Harry is getting older and I notice it now, 11 years after we got him from the shelter. But he still has a lot of life and mischief in him. Our dogs are so precious aren’t they Ann. Give Lucy a cuddle for me! 🙂

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    • Thank you! I do just smile at her now. When she was younger, I sometimes got annoyed (she could be hard to live with, now and then), but now I am just grateful that she still has the energy and the desire to be “bad” every now and then!

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  8. “Get off the dining room table!” Ha ha ha. Dogs. They are so fun and such important parts of the family. The only time I ever see my husband cry is when our dogs’ lives come to an end. I hope Lucy’s last years are filled with joy for all of you. 😀

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  9. Ann – this is another incredibly through provoking post that stimulates so many emotions for me. Our pups with lives much too short age before our eyes and leave so many wonderful memories. When I was young – like way young – I thought my parents were invincible and would never die. How could they> We see our pups – and now with Kloe oh so very prominent in my life – and think how can she ever age and die? But she will likely pass before i do as will Kali.

    So great for Luci and for you to have these 14 years plus 1 month (AND COUNTING) together. How awesome she found her missing ball :).

    You have painted a beautiful picture of a relationship with a “muddling middle ager” and her wonderful pup. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Michael! I know…it is so hard to know that the time we have with our loved ones is drawing to an end, whether they are human or animal. And I remember feeling the same way about my parents when I was a child, that they would be around forever. My father died in 2007, and my mother is now 86, so that is another “twilight years” situation. All we can do is love them and cherish them while we can.
      I do feel very lucky to have had Lucy in my life, challenges and all! She does her best to keep me young….

      Liked by 1 person

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