I don’t really make New Year’s Resolutions anymore. Mainly because I know I’ll break them way before the year’s finished, and also because I’ll make changes when I need to, thank you, not in response to some arbitrarily agreed date.
However, this year, I’ll make an exception.
This year I’ll resolve to strive to keep Buddy as happy, healthy and active as he can be.
I am aware that 2017 is the sixteenth year that Buddy has been alive in. He was born in 2002, and now here he is entering 2017. I’m delighted, but I have this nagging awareness in the back of my mind that – especially for a Labrador – he is old. I hope he gets a lot older, but I can’t hide from the fact that time is not on his side.
So part of my resolution for 2017 is to push any maudlin, depressing reflections away, and focus on the fact that Buddy is still happy, healthy and surprisingly active for his advanced years. In our December show, I interviewed vet Patrick Mahaney, and he commented that age is not an illness. This brought me up short, because when you are the guardian of an older dog, it is all too easy to try to wrap them up in cotton wool and by becoming overprotective we can restrict their enjoyment of life.
That is something I am sometimes guilty of, and of course there is a balance to be struck. I can’t throw a ball for Buddy as far and as frequently as I once used to – despite his enthusiasm for a game of fetch – because I know if he overdoes it he will be stiff and possibly even temporarily lame as a result. But that doesn’t mean I should stop him from enjoying chasing a tennis ball at all. Indeed, he relishes a good – if brief – run-around, and maybe it’s his joie de vivre that has helped him make it to the age of fourteen.
I have no control over how much longer Buddy will live, but I can have some control over his quality of life he enjoys, and I am going to try with all my energy and will to make this year as good as it gets for him. So I guess what I’m really saying is that my resolution for 2017 will be to work towards Buddy still being beside me this time next year.
Who knows what a year will bring forth, but I vow to try to be as good an owner as Buddy is a dog. It’s a very tall order, but I have the best motivation, because Buddy is a brilliant dog.