As of 2015, 65% of American households own one pet or more so most of you will understand the love you can have for a pet and the unconditional love you receive in return. Part of that love in return includes actual health benefits and invaluable lessons along the way. And with pets now getting better health care and living much longer, we are being taught a whole new set of lessons.
My story starts with a call I received 14 1/2 years ago requesting that I foster a 9-month black Female Labrador Retriever. I mention black, female and 9 months because at the time I had been waiting to adopt a 3-year-old yellow male Lab. When I got the call, I wasn’t prepared with food, a crate or supplies, but said yes and knew I would quickly figure things out. I had raised a chocolate lab as a puppy before, so this was nothing.
Minutes after picking Maddie up I would learn what “foster failure” meant. The moment she jumped on me – ok looked at me – I knew I was keeping her. Fourteen years later, I have had the privilege of enjoying and being part of the most energetic years of her life. Now, as she approaches 15 years, I have been enjoying some of her most gentle and loving years. I have also been learning some of her most important teachings about growing older and consider it my duty to pass them along.
Top Ten Things My 15-year Old Lab Has Taught Me About Growing Older
- Going to bed early AND sleeping in is good
- If you overdo it and run around having too much fun, you will be extra tired tomorrow but it will be worth it
- A little Metamucil goes a long way
- It’s ok to fall and wait for help to get back up
- If you need personal space even from those you love the most, it’s ok to let them know
- Always have at least one close, younger friend that keeps the pep in your step
- Keeping lots of love around you keeps you going
- Don’t ever stop enjoying a good breeze gently blowing on your face
- Acupuncture and herbs work!
- Find a good doctor who doesn’t believe age is everything and don’t be scared to prove the others wrong
And one bonus – If the first meal you are presented isn’t what you want, be patient and wait. Something better will come.