Today is Dixie's birthday.
My chocolate Labrador Retriever is 10 years old.
There is one universal truth in life: we love our dogs. Dogs are the best. In some cases, they are more loyal, trustworthy and loving than humans.
We call Dixie, "Mother Teresa." She does not possess a mean bone in her body. She loves, loves to be loved, and remains a puppy, even at her advanced age.
Dixie is a runner, and serves as a canine version of all of us who love to lace up the running shoes.
As a puppy, she would routinely run 3 to 6 miles with me, on the secluded mountain trails behind my house.
On one of those workouts, she was chased by two dogs, who did not share her kind heart. In an effort to escape, she twisted her leg, developed a pronounced limp, which was diagnosed as a torn ACL. She was only two years old.
A skilled surgeon repaired the leg, and, although it sometimes gets weak, the repaired limb has served her well.
Just like all aging runners, Dixie has reduced her mileage. 2 miles seems to be her limit these days. And her pace has slowed. Her workout is now is reduced to a fast trot. She breathes heavily and sleeps a lot when she returns from her run.
But, like all of us, when she hears the words, "Time to go for a run," she is ready to spring into action. And, as we all tend to do, she starts out too quickly, and pays for it as the workout goes on.
I see the greying of her face. I realize that the lifespan of our dogs is way to short, and I am gripped with sadness.
She knows if I'm injured or ill, and she lies next to me, often with a big paw draped across my chest. She senses sadness, anger, and pain.
My wife reminds me that I treat Dixie like a baby, and my reply is, "What's your point?"
Dogs ARE a our babies, and they earn and deserve our love every day.
Dixie and I are going for a birthday run now.
I hope we can go for many, many more.