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Old Hounds

August 22, 2010

One day I went to visit my father who had always been a hard-working man. I noticed that his grass needed mowing and his bushes needed trimming. I suggested that, since the weather was nice, he should get out and do some yardwork instead of snoozing in his easy chair all the time. He said, “I’m 84-years-old and I’m tired. I don’t feel like doing yardwork.” I hadn’t considered that a man of his life-long vitality might be just that… too tired. I was only forty-four then and still had a lot of energy so, from that time on, I did his yardwork for him. For all that he accomplished in his life, he had earned the right to snooze if that’s what he wanted to do.

Now my father has been gone for a dozen years and I’m staring sixty in the face. I’m not well and my energy has waned drastically. A lot of work needs doing around my house but I’m just too tired to do it. I don’t have anyone to help me, so I’ve learned to live with the dirty floors, cobwebs, dust, and weeds. It gets more difficult every year, but somehow I still manage to muster the energy to mow the lawn and trim the bushes. That’s how I get my exercise. Then I have to take a nap.

My dog, Pepper, is now 102 dog-years old and we are about equally energetic. She does well for her advanced years though she is losing her teeth and her hearing, she sleeps a lot, and no longer cares about chasing lizards and squirrels. I can’t blame her because I know how she feels. She was a great dog in her youth but the years have taken their toll. I often wonder which of us is going to check out first. Although I will be devastated when she’s gone, I still hope she goes first because she now depends on me for everything.

So, when people criticize me for being “lazy”, I remember with remorse how I criticized my old daddy and I think about this Aesop’s Fable called “The Old Hound”:

A HOUND, who in the days of his youth and strength had never yielded to any beast of the forest,  encountered in his old age a boar in the chase. He seized him boldly by the ear, but could not retain his hold because of the decay of his teeth, so that the boar escaped. His master, quickly coming up, was very much disappointed and fiercely abused the dog. The Hound looked up and said, “It was not my fault, master: my spirit was as good as ever, but I could not help my infirmities. I rather deserve to be praised for what I have been, than to be blamed for what I am.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 22, 2010 3:27 PM

    So very very true. It’s only when we are staring “older” age in the face do we realize the difference it makes in the quality of life. One of my biggest regrets in life is not realizing soon enough the pain and decline of my previous dogs. The larger one actually seemed to have gone senile. I can look back and see how much that afftected his behavior and ill treatment of our other old dog. I took for pure meaness but it wasn’t. I was not so kind to him as I should have been, something I will have to live with for the rest of my life. Now I realize how much more of our love, affection and special treatment a dog needs as it ages. They may need to be separated from other animals as was the case with this dog. I also know that some just have to be put to sleep to end their suffering and pain. It’s terribly difficult for us as humans to do to a loyal and loving companion but it’s in their best interest as they cannot understand why they are suffering. They also cannot tell us about all of their pain and often try to hide it which only makes things worse for them. So out of compassion consider doing the right thing for your pet.

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