It was no surprise. Bandit, our little red cattle dog, age 17 had been declining for months. Like any elderly soul, we dealt with his incontinence and difficulty walking. We put a doggy ramp on the porch stairs but on his last days put a sling under him to help him outside.
I’ve written about Bandit before in other posts- Stroller Dog and In the Company of Another Old Dog. I’ve loved all my dogs but he was exceptional in so many ways. When his arthritis got too bad I had altered a jogging stroller and a bike trailer so he would not miss out on our outdoor excursions.
The day before Bandit took his last breath, we carried him out to his beloved stroller. I took him for one last ride down our favorite country road to the rushing creek swollen by the recent rains. Even in his declining state, I could see the pure delight in his face as he took it all in.
We buried him out in a quiet corner of the yard under a big pine tree. I fashioned a cairn in his honor to mark his grave and hung his collar on top. Bandit basically died of old age, wearing himself out by living well. If we can only be so lucky.
We borrow the souls of our four-legged friends. At some point, we have to let them go. Their passing leaves holes in our hearts but in return, they give us such love and fond memories.
Dougan was adopted into our household when he was 8 months old. He was a hyper golden retriever – too much dog for a professional woman and her 10-year-old daughter that owned him before. There was no fenced yard at their house so he spent his days in a travel kennel waiting for his people to return from work and school.
Dogs raised like this are typically neurotic as adults and can never get enough attention and affection. I know because I have had them before. They live good lives out in my fenced yard in the country with plenty of attention. He has been kept company by Bandit, an adorable 9 year old Red Heeler that also has had a questionable past. We are kindred spirits as I too had some rough years in my youth.
Dougie is now over 12, old for a golden retriever. A few weeks ago I thought he was failing as he was refusing food and limping badly. I thought it was the end. Luckily the vet just pulled a few bad teeth and gave him meds his joints and for an injured ligament. We are happy he is back being his silly self. I see myself mirrored in him as I age.