I recently stumbled across an old prayer: “Lord, help me to be the man my dog thinks I am.” Anyone who has a dog will understand that prayer.
My dog’s name is Buddy, a tri-color corgi who has been with me most of his life. We adopted him 12 years ago from Corgi Rescue. He had been picked up off the streets, skinny, sick and lost. We bonded. He wants to be wherever I am and go wherever I go.
I usually get up about 5:30 a.m., brew a cup of coffee and go outside on our deck to watch the sunrise, meditate and pray. Buddy goes with me. He sits nearby, sniffs the air and thinks his “dog” thoughts.
After breakfast, Buddy goes to my office, finds his spot under my desk and starts the day’s work, napping while I write. If I go downstairs to watch a ball game (now that they are playing baseball again), Buddy stands at the top of the stairs and waits to be invited. If I don’t invite him, he eventually comes anyway.
We used to go on long walks every day, usually two miles. We have had several routes, which he marked on trees, fire hydrants and bushes. He always checked for “pee-mail” left by other dogs.
About a year ago, Buddy developed arthritis in his right front leg. Walks of a half-mile or more leave him limping. Sometimes he cannot put weight on the leg for a day or more. So, we don’t take walks any more.
Still, the veterinarian says he is a “healthy geriatric.” My grandchildren who are 9, 7 and 3 calculated his age in “dog years” and informed me that he is now 90 years old. By that measure, I told them, I must be 490.
Buddy apparently thinks much of me, even when I don’t think much of myself. When I return from a trip, he is beside himself. He whimpers, dances and barks like a puppy, overjoyed to see me. When I am in a foul mood, he isn’t. He just waits for me to feel better. Once, when I was overcome with grief, he jumped into my lap to comfort me.
Across the years, Buddy has taught me many lessons. Patience, forgiveness, trust and acceptance. Now he is teaching me how to grow old. Buddy never complains, has no regrets and wakes up happy to greet the morning.
I am reminded of God’s promise. “Listen to me ... you whom I have upheld since your birth and have carried since you were born. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and rescue you” (Isaiah 46:3-5). “Bless the Lord O my soul ... who satisfies your years with good things so that your youth is renewed as the eagle.”