Old dog, no tricks

Last Saturday Dr. Powell declared our old dog a healthy senior, despite decreased vision, near deafness and a pronounced limp.

Our nearly fifteen-year-old shepherd-husky mix, Shelby, came to us thirteen years ago after a motorist picked her up at the side of the Ohio Turnpike. She showed signs of abuse, including extreme hand-shyness and fear of loud noises. Yet like so many other abused dogs, she craved human attention and love. She’s received that in the Jones’ household.

Seven years ago Shelby suffered a stroke to the spine, when a clot pressed on the spinal cord causing complete paralysis in her hindquarters. After a long hospitalization and rehab, she regained limited range of movement, dragging one hind leg and struggling on the stairs. She wears boots on her hind feet to protect the foot she drags on the concrete, and to help her grip the wood floors inside. She is happy to wear the boots so that she won’t slip, but I like to think that she likes the boots for all the attention they gain her. She is more stubborn now, stops to smell and will not budge, and then pulls us towards strangers on the sidewalk she hopes will become friends.

Four years ago we brought Jack home, a hound hybrid, also a runaway. For the first week, Shelby growled at him every time he moved. When he tried to play and jumped at her, she snarled and snapped. He froze and averted his gaze. After a short time she loved him back, and now at walk time, he spins in circles before her and licks her face in anticipation. She looks for him when she enters a room, and settles only when she knows he is in his chair.

I write this to celebrate her life, and to remember each additional day with my old dog as a gift like no other. Shelby, thanks for teaching us to play, to persevere, and to love.

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