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Sunday, November 1, 2009

On Time and Growing Old

As is customary every Saturday and Sunday morning, I took Mila and Tia to the nearby park this morning, rather than going for a boring walk around the neighborhood. It was a foggy, cool morning, and Mila was enjoying herself, sniffing and exploring on her long leash. Suddenly I noticed how much she has aged over the years. Her face, the color of a yellow Labrador retriever, always bore the cream-colored markings of a beagle. But now, her face is more silver than cream or yellow.

My girl, now 11 years old by best guess, is showing her age. Mila has always been a quiet, keep-to-herself kind of dog (kind of like her mom), so I can't say that old age has slowed her. I found her, abandoned, collarless and pregnant, when I lived in Houston. After checking the greenbelt area where she was found and seeing no 'lost dog' signs, I decided to keep her. I figured that turning a pregnant dog over to the local shelter would be a certain death sentence for her.

So I had her spayed (she was carrying at least 10 puppies) and her hips x-rayed. Mila always did the 'bunny hop' when she ran, and the x-rays confirmed that my new 18-month-old dog indeed had bad hips. They have never seemed to bother her, except the day after we did a 2-mile fundraising walk for the local humane society. She was barely able to move the next day. She still jumps into the back of my SUV and onto my bed without assistance.

It is sobering to watch my "Miss Pig" (one of her nicknames) getting old. Tia, at age 8, hasn't slowed down any, although she was recently diagnosed with arthritis in her left elbow. My father will be 85 next month and is suffering from a myriad of medical issues. All these things have made me acutely aware that time marches on, and there is little that we can do about it.

My daughter, whom I adopted when she was 11 years old, will be 16 next month and is very much a young woman now. She will always be my 'little' girl (although she is a good 6 inches taller than I am).

I am extremely fortunate to be aging well. More than 30 years of running, a pretty healthful diet, love of hiking and bicycling, and watching my weight have enabled me to avoid the all-too-frequent complaints of people my age. My blood pressure is 90/60, my resting pulse 60. I have aches and pains from time to time, a knee that isn't always happy to be running, and I suffer from insomnia, but all in all, I can't complain. I am learning to take better care of myself and to do nice things for myself at least once in a while. This weekend's treat was a bunch of sunflowers, which always bring me joy.

So go out and do something nice for yourself and for those you love, be they human, canine, feline or any other species. Time is short, and none of us knows how much we have left.