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Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Old Girl Mila

I love my old dog Mila (pronounced Meela). She is somewhere past 13 years old, and she has severe hip dysplasia, as well as arthritis in her hips and spine. But despite all that, she still loves to go for her daily walk with me and our other dog, although her pace is very slow.

Lately, Mila has been staying very close to me. If I'm watching television, she will be either on the big bean bag in the living room, or snuggling with a pair of shoes I have removed but not yet put away. If I'm in my office, she will usually be found in a corner, watching me. When I leave the house, she will lie by whichever door I used to exit. If my daughter is home when I leave, Mila will whine and cry until I come home.

I found Mila while living in Houston; she was pregnant and apparently had been dumped in a neighborhood greenbelt. It was obvious she had been an outside dog, as she wasn't housetrained, and she had  no concept of toys. She never did learn to play. When outside, she could often be found in the plants at the edge of my yard. Inside, she would rest behind a chair.

Mila has always liked to keep to herself. Despite that, however, she loves attention from me. She tolerates being brushed gently, and having her nails trimmed, although that is usually a 4-step process, with her tolerating the torture of having only one foot done at a time. When she has had enough, she just gets up and leaves the room.

Our favorite part of each day is the time I spend with her just before bed. She loves her bed, which is cozy and soft. An old blanket makes it even cozier, and the bed's three high sides make it nice to lean against. I get down on the floor, give Mila a kiss on the head, stroke her ears and tell her she is a good girl and that I love her very much. I call her all three of her  nicknames: Missy Lou, Piglet and Sweet Pea. Then I give her a neck massage. I think that is her favorite thing in the whole world -- a massage of her neck muscles. It is obvious how much she enjoys the massage, as her eyes close and her body relaxes.

Mila has been with me since she was about 18 months old. We moved from Texas to California, and then to New Mexico. She has traits of both beagles and Labradors. Her coat is the color of a yellow Lab, and very thick. But it bears the tell-tale markings of a beagle in the cream-colored tip of her tail and paws, and her droopy ears. She howls and sniffs like a beagle, and she has the appetite and gusto for food of both beagles and Labs.

I know that the time is coming when Mila's hips will no longer be able to support her, and that I will have to say good-bye to my old girl. Until then, I will cherish each day with her and celebrate the unqualified love she has given me.