Fourteen (Written 2/5/22)
I still can't believe we made it to this day.
One year ago, I couldn't believe we had made it even that far. That was a milestone. This is a milestone and then some. This is a celebration.
This is Kola's fourteenth birthday.
Fourteen years old is a good long life for any dog. But for a giant breed like a Newfoundland, it is very rare and pretty remarkable. Most of them leave us at around ten or eleven.
I don't have anything super exciting to report in this blog post. This is not a story about adventure or adversity. It's not particularly clever or candid. It's just a shout-out to a really good dog who has lived her life well.
Just like last year, I baked her a scrumptious doggy birthday cake. And, just like last year, it was incredibly and tremendously appreciated. To be fair, the other dogs did get a few bites of it, mixed in with their daily rations of kibble. But Kola got most of it, and she deserved it.
In all the years I've lived with all the dogs throughout my life, there has probably never been one as sweet and steadfast and stable as Kola. She has been a wonderful representative of her breed -- kind, calm, gentle, and strong; devoted to her special people, but loving toward everyone she meets. In fact, the only thing that Newfies love more than their food (for instance, their ground-turkey-and-brown-rice-combo,birthday cake) is people. They are born to love, to rescue, and to watch over people. In her sweet and stolid way, Kola has done all of that for me.
She has scared me a few times, though, over the last six or seven months. There have been a few episodes where she has been unable to get up for a day or two. Every time it happens that she can't get her feet under her, my heart turns over, wondering if this time will be the last time. But so far, she's still okay.
I don't like writing morbid stuff, and I don't like reading accounts of other people losing their dogs where they go into every horrific and heart-breaking detail. And I don't think the dogs like it, either. They are creatures of the moment, of the here and now. And I think, in this regard, we should be just like our dogs.
I know that Kola is slowing down, and that, physically, she is not the dog she used to be. I know that someday, probably someday soon, in this fourteenth year of her life, the time will come. But you know what? We ain't there yet! She may not be the dog she used to be physically, but on the inside, her big old Newfy heart is just as kind and loving and true as ever. She's happy. She demands attention. She eats like a horse. She sleeps like a freight train. She enjoys life, and she feels good.
And so, taking a cue from her, I feel good, too. It's one day at a time.
It's loving your family, loving your friends, and loving your food and the other good things in an average day. It's taking things and being thankful. It's giving a big dog a really big hug, and listening to her snuffle and slobber over that awesome birthday cake, and hearing her snoring like a chainsaw as I type on the computer.
Life has been good. All fourteen years of it.
Happy birthday, Kola.