You humans are lucky. You age slowly. When you see a person every day, you don’t notice the other is getting older, probably because of dual eyesight failure. Most people don’t change remarkably over 15 years, but a dog’s appearance gets overhauled over the same time. In the time frame, when humans need a touch more makeup or something to mask the grey hair that suddenly appears, we go from puppy to adult to old dog. When when we become seniors, our parents are shocked because it seemed like yesterday when we were babies.
For we dogs, the change comes just as quickly. Unlike humans, we are not obsessed with our appearance. People spend a quarter of their lifetime in front of the mirror. They fret over their reflection, making sure every little hair is in place, their clothes fit properly, and nothing sticks to their teeth. Their behavior is hugely problematic because that is the time they could spend playing with us. We are a lot less forgiving than a mirror. We don’t care what you look like. We love you, no matter your appearance, and always see you at your best. We never preen in front of a mirror. We see our reflection so infrequently that when we see ourselves, we bark because who’s in the mirror.
. But, we still know we age. One day we feel a twinge in the back, or a leg, which we ignore, figuring that it is just a slight injury. But the spasm becomes pain, and then it pops up in other parts of our bodies, like bindweed, attaching deep to the bone. We can no longer jump on furniture or run like we used to do; walks become a chore; we tell ourselves the squirrels are getting faster, but deep down, we know the truth. Then our breaths become shorter, our eyes fail, as do our ears, and in no time, we are a senior dog. Some, like me, hold off the aging process to the end, while others, like our Aunt Judy’s beloved Daisy Mae, who went to the Bridge on Wednesday.
I remember Daisy Mae as a puppy. I have been her friend for at least five computers (soon to be a measure of time, I am just giving you a preview.) We played together in virtual Doggyspace, with all our friends, and we felt like we were never going to get old. When I passed to the Bridge, and the corporate stooges closed online Doggyspace, I saw less of Daisy Mae. When I did see her, she was still beautiful, but one by one, the Bridge was claiming her, taking her golden fur and replacing it with distinguished grey, her eyesight, and finally her remaining heartbeats. She had become a senior dog in the wink of an eye, and while Aunt Judy knew it, when she looked at Daisy Mae, she saw her as a playful puppy.
It is sad that the people who love us the most, watch us suffer during our final days, and see our last breath, don’t get to see all the pain, the suffering, and the old age, be wiped away as we cross the Bridge. I think it is set up that way for a reason. If people saw how much better it is for their pups now, and for the other people they have lost, they might fall to the temptation to end their duties on the mortal side. It is best left a mystery. If it weren’t, there wouldn’t be enough souls left on the mortal side to field a ball team.
I know that the pain Aunt Judy feels would be gone if she could see Daisy Mae as the young pup she loved, who no longer is in pain and isn’t suffering. Maybe, if the fates align, she will see Daisy Mae, as she is now, in a dream, and be able to remember it. It would help rebuild her heart and quell the tears. But, unless the rules change, all we can offer as angels are these few meager words. May they be more powerful than the pain.