At ten years old, Maize has outlived the average life expectancy of a Bernese Mountain Dog. She has accomplished so much in her life, and today she reminded me that being old does not mean being irrelevant.
My neighbor volunteers with her little dog at the local nursing home, and asked if I would go in with one of my dogs while she is out of town -- today was our day. Maize has been certified as a Therapy Dog but always worked with children, but I knew that this was her visit.
I wish I had captured with pictures what my words will not be able to convey -- as Maize moved easily in the group gathered to meet her, her tail wagged for every person. A dog does not see disability and age, but rather sees and responds to the humanity that exists in bodies, whether they are new and young, or old and failing. And there is something in that positive regard offered by a dog that touches people, even those lost inside themselves.
One woman sat in her wheelchair, hunched over and eyes closed -- until Maize touched her hands, surprising her. Her eyes opened, recognition filled them, and her face lit up with a smile as if a small spark had suddenly caught flame. She took sweet Maize's face in her hands, and smiled down at her -- and as always, that tail wagged gently...
The residents loved that -- like them -- Maize is old and cannot do everything she used to. They connected with her when they learned that -- like most of them -- Maize had children and grandchildren. And I think they also appreciated the reminder that even though Maize is old, there are still so many things she *can* do.
She showed them many of her obedience exercises -- they loved it. I took pictures to share from her life, including some of her as a puppy, and those pictures were a big hit. She wore her special collar that Marti sent -- the one with charms for her many titles -- and they passed that around, admiring it and what it represents.
But mostly they seemed to love the way she went from person to person, with that tail wagging, seeing past the wrinkles, the wheelchairs, the broken bodies and minds and into each valuable, special soul that exists within all -- young and old.
It is easy to forget that we will not always enjoy the blessings of this day -- but if we forget that, then we too easily forget to be grateful and to live each day fully and with purpose. Today I am grateful for the reminder that I am very lucky/blessed, and for the opportunity to share my dog with people who needed to see her.
And I am grateful to Maize, who reminds me of what kind of person I want to be -- if we can be half as kind and loving and accepting as Maize -- well, we are doing well.