Old Man Doug: An Ode to Our 17-Year-Old Dog

We Remember The Good Times

On New Year’s Day, I took the old boy down to see his nemesis, the waves. We walked along the water’s edge, but he kept looking back toward the direction of the beach house as if to say, "You took me out of my warm bed for this?"

Finally, with one furtive glance in my direction, he turned and took off at a fast trot back to the house. By the time I caught up with him, he was back in my bed, curled up around the mother of the bride dress.

“What kind of dog do you think you’ll get next?” I am asked. I don’t really know. I didn’t set out to be a rescue dog snob when I plucked him out of a dozen free puppies in a cardboard box.

While it’s trendy now, I contend that there’s plenty of truth to the benefits of a good mutt. They are healthy and live a life of gratitude. Doug is profoundly sweet in his dumbness and good health. He never had an accident, never let us down, chased a car or had the slightest problems with his hips.

We Prepare For The End

Credit: Carolyn Mason
The author, spending time with the old boy.

I know that 17 is pushing the edges of a dog’s longevity. Even his parents, Rambo and JoJo, died before then. I’ve made my plans. I will bury him in the backyard, where the trees are full of chattering squirrels. I will dig the hole myself, remove the dancing bear collar, wrap him in the Bama blanket he’s worn to soft crimson tatters and then lay him in the ground. Until that bad day comes, I try to spend time with the fellow. Yesterday I saw a squirrel hanging out in our front lawn. Doug was sleeping in the sun, and I woke him by whispering in his ear, "Squirrel," dragging the “sq” into sqwehhhhh sqwehhhhh. He struggled to understand, looking around with confusion in his milky, cataract-y eyes. I gently turned his face toward the squirrel, now sitting upright, watching us watch him. Doug looked, but he didn’t see. He couldn’t hear my “sqwehhhhh sqwehhhhh,” so he did what he does these days.

He trotted up to a wall and gave it a good, wet lick.

Carolyn Mason is a freelance writer living in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. You can follow Doug the Dog on Twitter at @dougdog3.

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