8 Lessons My Dog Taught Me About Love, Life, and Getting Older
By Jed Diamond Ph.D | The Good Men Project
In the beginning and in the end, it’s all about love.
Shortly after my wife, Carlin, and I moved from the “Big City” to the country, our god-daughter, Antonia bought the property next to ours and built her own yurt. To keep her company she brought her dog Raider. When she arrived, Raider was a playful pup. Over the years, she matured into a playful and fun-loving adult, got old, and finally died at age 15.
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I learned a lot from Raider. Since she passed away last year, I’ve been thinking about her more often. Here are some of the lessons she has taught me about aging.
1) Don’t worry. Everyone gets older.
I often find myself worrying about getting older. I notice new aches and pains and watch my sex drive go up and down like a roller-coaster. Performance of all kinds is more difficult and I worry about losing everything.
Raider, on the other hand, does not seem to worry about aging. She clearly notices that she is getting on in years, but “hey,” she seems to say, “that’s just life, nothing to worry about.”
2) When you can play like a youngster. When you can’t, relax in the sun.
I used to play all the time. I loved sports and got great pleasure out of a hot and heavy game of basketball, football, or baseball. I can still play, but it makes me mad that I can’t play like I used to play. I often feel slow, fat, and clumsy.
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Raider spends a lot more time relaxing in the sun. I try to get her to walk and chase balls like she used to do so often. But lately, she just wants to sleep a lot. I must say, she looks very content and doesn’t seem to chastise herself for her lack of “game.”
3) Kisses and touches are forever.
OK, I admit it, as I’ve gotten older, I seem to need to be touched and kissed more often. Sometimes I feel like a little kid chasing my wife around, wagging my tail, hoping for a pat on the head. She thinks I want sex (OK, I usually do), but what I really want is to be touched, kissed, and appreciated. But, I feel a little foolish. Should I really be this needy at age 72?
Raider has no such problem. She snuggles up for touches anytime, anywhere. She kisses my hands and anything else she can wrap her tongue around. She understands that we never outgrow the need to be touched and kissed.
4) There’s no shame in asking for help.
As I’ve gotten older, there are things I can’t do by myself. I need help splitting wood and hefting equipment into my car to get fixed in town. There are a hundred things, big and small, that I could use help with. But I have trouble asking.
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Raider has no problem asking for help. When her hips were giving out and she needed help getting into the car, she would look over her shoulder and give me that look. “I could use a hand here. Could you give me a boost?” No shame at all. Help is expected and appreciated.