The Service Dog Blues

My main man, Strauss (who I realized not only deserves to have his name spelled out because of the work he does, but also because he doesn’t have to be “protected” as he is not human), is getting old.  This is a fact I’ve been ignoring for the past year and a half(ish).  It is an unpleasant realization.

Now, for those who have had the great pleasure of meeting the great Mousedog, he really doesn’t appear to be 7 years old….nor does he really act it.  No, he is as gung ho about playing fizbee, or going biking, or doing agility now as he was when he was just 18 months old.  Nothing keeps this dog down.

The only difference between now and when he was 18 months old, is that he does everything slightly slower.

Those who have not lived with this dog will not see it, because they don’t know how he was in his younger days.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  He is a bright, vibrant, happy, healthy dog, and he’s in great shape  But we are coming upon that time where we move from “He’s in great shape!” to the caveat of “He’s in great shape for his age!”

Great shape for his age….

At 7 years old, Strauss is out exercising the (almost) 2 year old, and the 5 year old that I currently have in residence with me.  He still screams to go for his bike rides, he still bounces about like Tigger having a bad trip when he wants his fizbee, and he will still burst your damn ear drums while we run agility.

But today….well, today he was gimpy.  He was favoring his left rear leg.  He still used it, just with a limp.  And it brought it home to me that soon, my time working with this great dog will come to an end.  He will no longer be able to be that stabilizing force I use when I go out shopping.  He will no longer be loaded up into the car to travel God knows where for who knows what.  He will no longer be harnessed up to help me get through my day.

And it stings.

In another few months, luck be willing, we will have a new puppy in this house, and that puppy will eventually be filling the large harness that Strauss currently wears.  Eventually he will be the one that is loaded into the car, so I can run errands.  Eventually, he will be the dog that stabilizes me.

And Mouse will stay home with the others, holding down a couch,

Don’t get me wrong, he has certainly earned his retirement (more than).  But anybody that knows this dog…truly knows this dog, knows that he lives and loves to work.  And I have to wonder how long it will take him before he doesn’t wonder why he’s not the one being suited up anymore, and why he must stay home.  I wonder if he’ll be able to accept his retirement.

Seven isn’t really old for a dog of his breed.  It shouldn’t be.  And he gives no inclination that he is truly old, at least not in spirit.  But the winds of change are cold, bitter, biting, and ever evident, and I can’t pretend they are not there.

Strauss will hopefully be around for another 5 or 6 years, so I can give him his cookies just for being around.  I sure do hope that dog knows how much I love him, and that, to me, he is so much more than just a dog.

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~ by ClassicalSpazz on September 23, 2011.

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