Now also when I am old and grayheaded,

O God, forsake me not;

until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation,

and thy power to every one that is to come.

                                                                                    — Psalm 71:18



We have an old dog who looks like a bag of bones. Moves like one, too. She has funny little growths coming out of her face, and funny little bumps all over her back and tummy. She can barely get up on, or down from, the couch. We used to yell at her for doing that. But now it’s OK. For all the comfort and fun she has meant to us, and all the miles of hunting fields she has covered . . . she’s earned it.


She nearly died a year or two ago when she swallowed a dead fish that still had the hook in it. Some careless fisherman just left it there. Terrible! The hook tore into her innards. The vet asked if we should just let her go. NO WAY! We spent big bucks on her surgery and recuperation. It was worth it.


Now she will bark at the back door, fervently, as if hundreds of rabbits were just outside threatening our domain. But when we let her out, she just goes and stands on the patio and looks around cluelessly. It reminds me of the times I wander around the house demanding to know who took my glasses, and then finding them on top of my head. We’re both getting old, that’s all.


We cannot leave her in a kennel any more when we go somewhere. It is too upsetting to be away from both her people and her home. Now we hire dog sitters and dog walkers. To her, they are JV. But they are enough.


She is Sunny, or SunBun, or Sunny Bone-O. The Wonder Dog is now white-faced and 13. Sometimes, when I look at her sleeping in the sun, I can hear her life clock ticking. At those times, I look away. I don’t want to hear it.


Now, I know a very cute little old lady who lives in a retirement apartment building with many of her lifelong friends. As they were widowed, they all kind of wound up together in an elderly community of old, old friends. They have dinner together and can gather for bridge, run errands for each other, carpool to plays, and so forth. It is super neat.


But one of their number has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. A while ago, she moved from the regular apartments to the memory care building next door.


This little old lady that I know goes over there once a week, helps her get dressed, quietly replaces one of her mismatched shoes so that her shoes match, zips up her jacket as you would for a toddler, and over they walk to the main building to have dinner in the private room with the 10 or 12 old, old friends that she has known for many decades.


And there, I am told, it is as if she finds the Fountain of Youth! She contributes to conversations just fine. She is funny. She remembers things. She knows everybody’s names and expresses great joy in seeing them.


And then, the caregivers say, for the rest of the week, except when her family comes, she’s pretty “blank,” personality-wise.


I know what is happening on those special nights. Bet you do, too.


Love brings you out. Love overcomes. Love fills the holes. Love fixes what’s wrong. Love makes you young. Love gives you a reason.


It’s a lesson worth learning, for man and for beast.


You know, my Beloved has always been Sunny’s feeder, hunting companion, and walker. He is her Best Friend. He’s the one who found her breeder and drove us to central Iowa to bring her here. She can sense that, in his eyes, she is very special.


Even so, I was amazed the other afternoon when my Beloved told Sunny and our younger Lab, Maisy, that he would take them out for a good, long walk, down to the pond that they love, for a swim and a tramp through the woods . . .


. . . and that old bag of bones, that lumpy old hound, that decrepit old Sunny Bone-O . . .




All four feet left the ground! Several times! She was lots more animated than the 7-year-old dog.


I couldn’t believe my eyes. Instead of her usual mournful look, her lips were drawn up into a happy bow. She morphed from a spent old dog to a lively pup, brimming with excitement, barking and jousting and bursting out the door.


Her Best Friend’s love brings out the real SunBun. It smooths out her lumps. It gets her juices flowing. So off they went.


In my mind’s eye, that’s how she’ll always be: a golden dog, glowing in the late afternoon winter sun, basking in love and caring. Feeling invited. Feeling a part of the scene.


It’s the same way with us two-legged critters, and our Best Friend. You know Who I mean. The one who smooths out OUR lumps and fills in OUR holes.


This gives me hope as I proceed even deeper into my geezer years.


Maybe you can’t teach an old dog new tricks . . . but the old ones are pretty darned good.


By Susan Darst Williams • • © 2018