What My Dog Taught Me

My dog has taught me an appreciation of the aging process and tolerance.

(And Two Valentine's Day Free Gifts)

“Cookie, walk!” I shout from the end of the hallway.


“Walk, Cookie,” I holler once again.


I traipse towards the living room alarmed by the intensity of her snoring and the rumbling of her congested chest. I swear she sounds like she’s been smoking three packs a day her entire life. Her sixteen-pound body is concealed under her thick blue-plaid comforter; the one she inherited from Alec when he left for college.  Only her wet muzzle pokes through one end, and as I call her name, she opens her cloudy eyes and limps towards me.

Cookie takes her time, and as usual, collapses and rolls onto her side, waiting for me to scratch her belly. I slide my nails against her short, white coat trying to avoid the growing lumps and warts which the vet told me are “just normal fat lumps that come with age.” Now I’m wondering if my own lumps and warts will continue to grow with age.

Cookie wobbles to her red bowl, and after several gulps, follows me down the hall to our garage.

I flick the fluorescent light switch on despite daylight streaming through the garage windows. Without this extra light Cookie gets disoriented, searching for the door to our front yard, underneath my car.

I bend down, clip the leash onto Cookie’s pink collar, and look forward to reading the next chapter in my book. These days I get a good twenty pages in per walk.

Six months ago, I could walk Cookie along the back trail in ten minutes; she even trotted next to me while I rode my bike. Now it seems her main joy in life is sniffing; well that’s not entirely true. Her one meal a day and begging for treats seem to thrill her equally. But coming back to the sniffing, this has been quite taxing on my patience, which for those who know me well, is something I sorely lack.

The problem is not the sniffing per se, I can put up with a little sniffing; it’s the amount of sniffing that goes on. I mean how can it take five minutes to walk from my front gate to the street, and believe me, I don’t live in a mansion with a long driveway. It’s every single blade of grass, and worse yet, she backtracks. Yes, you heard me, she goes back a few feet just to double check whatever it is that’s so interesting. I thought she did this to irritate me, which is why I decided to read a book to keep me calm and distracted.

But I’m grateful to my vet for explaining why she does this. Apparently, as dogs age, they rely even more on their sense of smell since both their vision and hearing are on the decline. This of course leads me to question whether or not I shall be able to smell things better as I get older. I pride myself in having a better sense of smell than my husband, but what if mine keeps improving with age? I dread to think of the consequences, especially in certain places like public restrooms, and while traveling around third world countries.

Needless to say, as Cookie is aging, albeit at a faster pace than me, I’m learning that even dogs slow down, get arthritis, and grow warts and fat lumps. I think that my love for Cookie has taught me something crucial about the aging process: to become more tolerant and understanding since we all have to go through it.



 2 Free Gifts for you on Valentine’s Day

1). I’m offering a Free Copy of my memoir: Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family’s Year of Gutsy Living on A Tropical Island to the first person who submits their “My Gutsy Story®” “LOVE STORY” which we shall feature on this site. Please see guidelines here.


2). Ferris Robinson is offering a Free Download of her book, Dogs and Love, Stories of Fidelity all day today, Valentine's Day. Thank you Ferris.

Sonia Marsh is a “Gutsy” woman who can pack her carry-on and move to another country in one day. She’s a motivational speaker who inspires her audiences to get out of their comfort zone and take a risk. She says everyone has a “My Gutsy Story”; some just need a little help to uncover theirs. Her story, told in her travel memoir Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family’s Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island, is about chucking it all and uprooting her family to reconnect on an island in Belize.

Sonia has lived in many countries – Denmark, Nigeria, France, England, the U.S. and Belize – Sonia Marsh considers herself a citizen of the world. She holds a degree in environmental science from the University of East Anglia, U.K., and now lives in Southern California with her husband, Duke.

Sonia welcomes new friends, bloggers, writers and readers at Soniamarsh.com (http://soniamarsh.com) Contact her at: sonia@soniamarsh.com www.facebook.com/GutsyLiving or Twitter.com@GutsyLiving

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

JustUs February 15, 2013 at 01:57 AM
I absolutely love dogs. I always have. Long ago in my younger years when I was Catholic a priest told me that dogs could not go to heaven. And I remarked back to him that if that's true when I die I want to go where they go. I was always on his black list after that. One reason I love dogs is that they do nothing for political reasons. I never ever have to second guess their motives. And dogs NEVER hold grudges. If my dog barks too much outside and I tell him to shutup and give him a little swat on the behind for a split second he takes it personally. 5 minutes later he comes to me with his tail wagging and wants me to scratch him, and I always oblige. If humans could act a little more like dogs it would be a much healthier and enjoyable world. But we humans think we are their superiors. However, I think it's the other way around. In so many ways dogs are so much more civilized than humans it's not even funny. Oh sure, once in a while you run across a mad, bizarre dog. But they are a huge exception to the norm. Most just want a warm meal and love. And nobody can blame them for that. So I ask all of you to look at your dog from a different perspective. Acknowledge that in many ways your dog might be more honorable and have more positive qualities than you do. Accept that. Once you accept that you will become more human and people will gravitate towards you. Enjoy your evening.
Sonia Marsh February 15, 2013 at 03:21 AM
JustUs, I'm with you about dogs. When I was a child, my family lived in Nigeria, West Africa. My Danish mom had a Great Dane and that dog saved her life when a thief entered our house with a knife. I've had a poodle, my husband's Boston terrier, a Westie, and now Cookie, and I love dogs. You're so right, they are so forgiving and offer unconditional love. These are traits that we as humans have a tough time with. Thanks for your comment.
JustUs February 15, 2013 at 03:34 AM
"My Danish mom had a Great Dane and that dog saved her life when a thief entered our house with a knife." Sonia, if that happened in America the politicians would probably want to outlaw dogs.
ferris robinson February 17, 2013 at 07:48 PM
Sonia, I LOVE your essay on Cookie! The way you parallel her aging with your own is both funny and so tender. (Although you look to young to be thinking of aging!) I can tell how much you love her, and what she means to you. And I agree that we have much to learn from our relationships with the dogs we love. I love meeting a fellow dog-lover, and wanted to thank you again for all your support for Dogs and Love.
Sonia Marsh February 18, 2013 at 04:57 AM
Ferris, Thanks for your comment and yes, I do love Cookie. It's amazing how we could all become more compassionate and offer unconditional love if we emulated our dogs. Thanks for your comment and your "Dogs and Love" e-book.


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