There is the notion that once in a lifetime, twice if we are lucky, we will share our hearts with a dog that we connect to on a deep, inexplicable level. We call them our heart dogs. In June of 2009 I met my mine and my heart will never be the same.
I was a technician at a veterinary clinic who worked closely with the Animal Rescue Coalition. I had been told that there was a sheltie looking for a home. I had built a reputation as a sheltie enthusiast, having two of my own at home. One day I went into work to learn that she was due in that day for a check-up. I was secretly looking forward to meeting her. When I went to reception to meet newest rescue I was met with the funniest looking little sheltie I had ever seen. She was missing about 75% of her hair and her poor teeth, the ones she had left, were falling out of her mouth. Despite all of this, I loved her as soon as our eyes met.
She was wagging her tail veraciously and rubbing her little grey snout all over my coworker, seemingly engrossed in all of the attention she was being given. They estimated her age to be 10 years. Deep down I knew she was probably closer to 12 or 13 but thought if I agreed it would make her live just a little longer. Long story short, two weeks later my shelties had a new, much older, sister that we fondly called Granny.
Granny’s tail did not stop wagging for the 2 1/2 years she spent with us. Everyone who met her loved her. How could you not? She embodied everything that is good about humankind, and none of the bad. She was gentle, loving, forgiving and funny. It was an adjustment living with an older dog. She could not go off leash as she was deaf and could not hear my calls (although there was some discussion in our home as to whether her hearing was nonexistent or selective – to this day we are not too sure). She was slower than my two younger dogs so needed to be walked separately. I loved this time with her. My little dog, the heartbeat at my feet… Granny was with me during many tumultuous times in my life. While adjusting to going back to school to grieving the death of my grandfather, her continuously wagging tail and bright demeanour kept me going.
I had to say good bye to Granny on February 26th 2012. It was difficult, yes, but it left me with a sense of accomplishment. I had cared for this lovely little soul for over 2 years and let her go with her dignity intact. Many people are hesitant to adopt older pets because they fear losing them too soon. Of course I wish I had had her for longer but what would I have done without her for those 2 years? She filled me with joy and happiness and that overshadows the briefness of her time with me. When the time is right, I will adopt again. It will be an older pet who is wise and caring and looking for companionship along their journey. It would be great if we could all take a lesson from Granny. Be loving towards others and always greet strangers with a wagging tail and open heart as they may become your new best friend.