• Question
  • Reflection on retirement and aging -- a dog's story

    Asked on 12/30/2006

    Bailey, my loyal Golden Retriever friend, is 13 years old. As you know, a year in a human's life represents 7 years of a dog's life. So the passing of a day for me is a week for Bailey. And a month for me represents over half a year of Baily's life.

    Why I mention this is because Bailey is showing me my future as he rapidly ages, transforming himself from a dog who loved to run and swim and retrieve to a dog who now struggles to walk forward on the Home Stretch of his life.

    Bailey is an old dog and is afflicted with pulmanary edema, an enlarged heart, Hip displasia and arthritis -- diseases often associated with advancing age, and often present in Golden Retrievers or Labrador Retrievers. He is under Veterinary care and my care.

    He teches me what it means to struggle with pain and trial without complaint. He instructs me on the responsibilities of loyalty as he, with increasing difficulty, gets up to follow me as I move from room to room. He, a dog, shows me what it means to be human; to care for those who used to care for you when they were younger, and who still do. Bailey teaches me on the need for patience and support for he who protected me when he was younger, and who still seeks in his heart to be there beside me, wherever I am. And Bailey reminds me that he needs to be petted and loved and cared for and fed and walked and groomed.

    I guess that what I am trying to say here is that it is a privilage for me to be Bailey's best friend, and sometime pupil, to be able to help him as he becomes frail and uncertain.

    Yet I would be remiss if I didn't also tell you that Bailey has an extensive Fan Club of admiring adults, children and dogs, yes, dogs, that he meets as we take our daily walk along Blackwater Creek Trail. People, young and old, love Bailey. They fuss over him. They hug and pet him, greeting him by name and with great happiness as he swishes his flowing tail back and forth in response.

    Golden Retrievers are by nature intelligent and gentle, though strong, and loving dogs. They bring out the best in us humans. As such, they help inform our lives through helping us make right choices and good decisions. I am philosophically challenged in that I don't know exactly how this connects with retirement and aging, the title of this essay. But perhaps someone out there can help make the connection.

  • Categories: Your Life in Retirement, Retirement Planning, Health Care and Health Insurance, Health Issues, Relationships


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  • Grandpa: Thank you for your beautiful essay. How lucky to have a companion like Bailey. I am hoping that Bailey is with you now, almost one year after your posting of this article. I understand every word you wrote from my heart. When I get home from work today, Molly will be waiting for me. She is 13. She may not hear me come in. I take care not to startle her. When she wakes up from a sometimes very deep sleep, sometime her face is even an indicator of just how far off in dreamland she actually was. She doesn't like to come downstairs to my bedroom at night. I know that because through the recent nights she has begun to call me. Just one bark and ten seconds later, another bark. So I have started to sleep upstairs to give her company. And me too. Our walks are short. Our grooming sessions are long. She can sure make me smile when she quickly grabs a toy and perks her ears, just waiting for me to make a move to try to take it. She seems like she is 2 years old again. I don't know where the time went. I still feel her on my lap when I brought her home from the breeder. I still have that little collar she wore that day. The connection you were asking about? I think it is love. The love connection. Enabling us to care so deeply, and putting ourselves aside while we tend to the needs of others. The needs of our Goldens are so easy to tend to because they tended to us as companions, friends and educators. Thank you again for your essay and the opportunity to respond. It was nice to hear about Bailey.

  • Login to rate this answer:   Answered on 11/21/2007
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