My boxer , Belle, is 10 years old, which makes her a senior dog . A year ago, her vet told me that she has a heart murmur and probably only had six months to live. Those six months passed by too quickly, but I am thankful every day that she has outlived the vet’s expectations. However, the fears still remain with me. The truth is that living with a senior dog is a whole new experience.
I’m terrified of that inevitable moment of when her heart does stop. Will she go peacefully while sleeping? Or will she go while we’re playing when we’re at the beach? And more selfishly, my greatest fear, is facing that day when I come home from work and she’s no longer there to welcome me home.
For the last year, whenever I see Belle sleeping, I watch her for awhile just to be sure she is still breathing. If she’s not in the room with me, I’m wondering if she is okay. I don’t know if tomorrow will be her last or does she have another month or year? I live in a constant state of worry.
Belle has been my constant companion every day for the last 10 years and she has been the absolute perfect dog. Finding out that her days were numbered made me realize that now is my time to give back. Every day, I try to set time aside to give Belle my complete, undivided attention. If I’m working on a project, I try to do it where she can be near me. If I’m running errands where she can go with me, I take her.
I also try to spoil her as much as I can. She gets a dog cookie when we go through the coffee shop drive thru and I take her to the dog beach, whenever possible, where she loves to run, play, and splash around with the other dogs. When she’s running and playing, you would never guess that she wasn’t expected to live this long. She still acts like a puppy!
Living with a senior dog is one of the most difficult but beautiful experiences. While I dread the day when her heart stops, I know that I have had the privilege to make her final days, months, or years as comfortable and enjoyable as I possibly can and for that, I have absolutely no regrets.