Unearthing creative possibilities: Trish Roque's website, personal blog, & portfolio

Lessons from my dog: growing old with grace

I don’t often write about my pets, though my site is full of their pictures. But lately, I’ve felt compelled to write about Siwa, who will be 12 years old in February (update: she is actually older than I thought considering I gave her birthday as the date I adopted her ~ she was 2 months old at the time so her actual birth month is December). She is a very special dog, one who has been with me through a number of life’s pages. Heck, she was with me through every significant relationship I’ve had with the exception of the first. She has been my constant companion since my early 20s, making the trek with me from New Mexico, where she was born and bred.

Siwa in Tahoe 12/2008

She has been an avid hiker, like me, since she was a pup. When I arrived in the Bay Area, she was diagnosed with severe arthritis in her elbows. She was four at the time. It didn’t seem to stop her. She would chase cows, squirrels, cats. We ran through the trails of Redwood Park in the Oakland hills. She would always be along exploring the parks of the East Bay with me, just as we had done through the trails of the Sangre de Cristo mountains in New Mexico.

Two weekends ago marked a significant time in both our lives: I started giving her a separate walk on the trails because she is no longer able to keep up on our regular hikes with Sammy, our 4-1/2 year old Border Collie. It takes her about an hour to walk less than a mile.

We spent the New Year’s weekend playing in the snow up in Tahoe. Siwa had to stay behind for the snowshoeing trip, which made me really sad. But after she and I took a walk down the snow-filled road, she looked at me with her big brown eyes as if to say, “It’s ok. I’ve had my fun. I know my limits and I’m good with it.”

It’s really hard to see her slowing down so quickly in the last six months. But every step she takes, she does so with her tail wagging. She moves at her own pace, confident that she will get to where she needs to go in her own time. She is secure in herself, sometimes to the point of being aloof. (She is more like cat than dog in that way.) She is incredibly patient, though she does not hesitate to warn other dogs when they have crossed the line. She will defend herself but she rarely starts the fight. (That would be Sammy!) She is very forgiving, and is quite content to just enjoy her life.

*Sigh* I want to grow old gracefully like her. *Sigh*

Tired Siwa

This photo was taken after we hiked a good 3-4 hours in the mountains above Kangaroo Lake in Northen California this past summer. We crossed the Pacific Crest Trail at one point. She plopped on her bed upon our return to the campsite. Jon, Sammy, and I decided to take a dip at the lake, to which Siwa said, "I'm not moving from this spot!" Not bad for an old gal!

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