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Old Man Contemplates His Dying Dog

May 22, 2015

"Unfortunately, Lobo doesn't look much like these pics now.  He's showing
his age."

Tony Blizzard's 19-year-old dog Lobo
is clinging to life. Tony, who is 82,
believes Lobo is a model of Christian acceptance.

"Christians are asked to bear suffering without complaint as Christ did. That's a good idea for everyone in the world since we all suffer sometime in our lives."

By Tony Blizzard

I have an old dog. A very old husky. I've lived in this town 13 years but Lobo preceded me by far. I'm told he's about 19 years old, which is over 130 for a dog.

He's been my companion for 8 or 9 years. For the last 18 months, I figured he had about another week or so. But he just keeps coming back. He's got a lot of guts and a strong will to live although his life is closing in quickly now and mostly he sleeps and rests.

The walks he always loved - when he couldn't escape and run all over town - he has gradually had to cut back from covering our town to circling the familiar block (three times a day to two, to one, then occasionally to none) then to the place four houses away where he often receives treats. Now he doesn't always get that far before he struggles home.

He used to give me one sharp bark when he needed to go out but for a year his voice has disappeared so he can't wake me anymore or ever tell me he needs to go out.

For some time his back legs have been betraying him, what seems to happen to most big dogs that get old. First he fell once in a while, usually when making fast turns. But it got progressively worse until now he seldom is able to get up without my picking up his hind quarters. Sometimes, when I have been doing other things, not paying attention, he has gotten himself into hurtful situations but he can neither cry out nor move away. He just has to patiently wait for me to find him and get him to a normal position.


I know animals are not prone to complain but this is a step more than I ever expected to see. He knows now that he, like myself in my old age, is no longer the self-sufficient, self-ruling creature he was made to be.

As his faculties fade - including lately his sight, I'm afraid - he becomes more dependent on me. He falls a lot lately and sometimes falls again just after I pick him up because he doesn't wait until his feet are under him properly before walking. He has "accidents" in the house since he can't warn me and seems to appreciate that I clean up for him.

I have to cut up his food in small chunks because his teeth are gone; he can only use his tongue to pull pieces into his mouth which he can swallow. He can't scratch himself and is very appreciative of having his ears scratched or rubbed.

In other words, he is going downhill to death. And he is almost helpless. If I don't do it for him, it doesn't get done. He would have long ago died if he were not cared for. Starvation, fallen somewhere and left, trapped in a spot with no escape, etc. Most owners have dogs in this condition "put to sleep." I look at him, especially when he needs something or when it's time for him to eat, and see him looking at me. I know he wants what I can give him because he wants to live, so I give it because I want him to live too.

His major and possibly only pleasure now is the fig newton. He loves those things. I have to break them up into small pieces for him and he takes them out of my hand with his tongue, one small piece at a time. After the last piece, he gives my hand a strong lick, something he never did when healthy and hearty. Too much wolf; he was never a jump up and lick your face kind of dog.

I give this description of his life because I have been reading about the proper way for Christians to handle suffering and it immediately hit me that Lobo, although he has no choice, he can't complain because he has no way to complain, is still a true example of accepting what life brings. If I am busy with something else past his usual time for some care such as feeding, he simply waits. He may raise his head and follow me with his eyes, his only way to remind me that he needs care since he has no voice.

Most of us people do have a voice and can complain and demand, but how much closer to Christ's example if we try not. This is all new thinking to me as I was blessed with good health until about 80 years. Like most of us, I took it for granted, but when the "wonderful one hoss shay" began to fall apart, it was a shock. I have done my share of complaining about the pains of old age and the loss of the ability to do many things for myself. But maybe that will change now with Lobo's example, even if he's gone. Christians are asked to bear suffering without complaint as Christ did. That's a good idea for everyone in the world since we all suffer sometime in our lives.

I'm learning from old Lobo how suffering should be with us. The two of us didn't like each other much at first but God has made us good companions, communicating in a way neither of us really can account for. As suffering is a part of life, I now have before me an ongoing example of bearing suffering which is essentially that described as the way Christ bore it when he gave up his earthly life for the sake of all. I hope in future to benefit from both examples.

Makow- Seeing Death in a Positive Light

First Comment from Lee-

 have spent months and across the board, years, taking care of my animals as they have gotten older.  I have learned about medicine, natural helping substances, cold laser therapy, to ease their pain, and improve the time they have left.

My two big points are animals can be incredibly important to people to learn about love, loyalty, dependency.  Of all things a drama show I watch actually spilled out a tremendous truth that was largely overlooked.  It said that... if you take care of something, you will find that you love it, and that your life would be empty without it.

This resonated with me immediately.  I thought about my little guys I take care of, give medicine to, research natural herbs and substances for health for, massage their stiff joints, break up food into smaller pieces for, clean them up, do laser treatments on for pain and healing, and knew this was a huge truth, buried in a drama series.  Usually not something you find in such a place.  People love what they take care of.

But it's true.  You love your animals.  But when they really need you in older age, you know.  You know they appreciate it.  They now don't mind and like being held awhile; they can rest on you a little while.  The affection they return to you increases.  They let you know they appreciate what you're doing for them. 

And I thought of God.  And I understood Him better right there.  About how he views us and Him. 

Scruples - the game of moral dillemas

Comments for "Old Man Contemplates His Dying Dog"

Dan said (May 23, 2015):

I know just what Tony's going through. I was wrapped up in my own illness when the vet told me my old pet was ill with more than a cold, several years ago. I kept him alive a couple of months longer that the vet advised. When he stopped drinking water, I hydrated him daily with Lactated Ringer's Injections. When I could see his suffering was getting worse every day I finally took him in for the last time. He actually perked up a bit from the kind attention and soothing female voices of the vet and her assistant. I was looking in eyes at the moment he passed, which was instantly, and gentle as a whisper.

Such an experience with an animal, it's as if God's using the animal to teach us the love of God. I found an online support group for pet owners that really helped me through the grieving process. I buried my friend under his favorite shade tree, and still make the sign of the Cross in that direction and think of him coming to greet me when come home.

God bless Lobo.

Al Thompson said (May 22, 2015):

There is no doubt in my mind that dogs are a gift from God. A dog the size of Lobo lasting for 19 years is remarkable in and of itself. Usually, dogs that size last only between 9 and 12 years. Nineteen years is a real blessing.

One of the qualities of dogs is their remarkable patience. People can learn a lot about patience by watching dogs and how they react to things. My son told me one evening that when I went out to the store for a few minutes, that my dog sat by the front door waiting for me to return. He just sat there for 20 minutes until I came back.

Having a dog is like getting a consolation prize when a relationship with a woman doesn't work out. I can't help but make the comparison. I suppose that it is the unconditional love that a dog gives his owner far surpasses many relationships between many men and women.

I wish Tony and Lobo all the best, I know what it is like to have a very sick dog. I was heartbroken when my Cocker Spaniel died, but then again, I had 12 wonderful years with her.

Henry Makow received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Toronto in 1982. He welcomes your comments at