Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Meet Bo's Tongue

As Bo ages, new quirks arise.

The first that I noticed as Bo officially became a senior dog was Bo's tongue as he slept. The tip of it slipped out and stuck into place. It has continued to every since. The tip dries a touch--not so much that it feels unhealthy. I've run my fingers over it; it just feels like a damp piece of rubber.

Sometimes, when he wakes up, it remains in place until he drinks some water or moves his tongue around and makes it wet.

Looking at him closely, his teeth have been worn down with time. With his teeth smaller and unable to keep the tongue all the way in, this view has become a visual reminder of Bo's growing senility. 

This matters because I have been through this process a few times. The final years of beloved pets are bittersweet, but you learn to read the tea leaves. You prepare yourself.

Reminders are all around us. Pictures of pets from our past, pets of family members, and even a pet on social media taught me a lesson.

Recently, a loving couple chronicled the last years of their senior dog, Poh, on Instagram: Pohthedogsbigadventure. It was a remarkable narrative to follow. Poh beat kidney failure while his owners carried and carted him with them around the country, from ocean to ocean. The images and short video clips continue to appear on Instagram. Poh's family continues to share his legacy. While this remains a powerful connection for me, the care of any pet, especially those in their senior years, reminds me of our humanity.

My cousin and wife adopted a senior dog, Chessie, after caring for the dog preceding Chessie--Boo. This year, Chessie was featured on Michael and Kathy's family Christmas card. I love how much they embrace their senior labs--actually, they set such a beautiful example of respect and love for all of nature. Their photographs of wildlife on the Chesapeake are beautiful.

Back in 2010, when my wife moved in with me, she brought Smudge--a really old cat. Settling in, Smudge found a spot in a corner of a back bedroom and spent most of his last months curled up. Occasionally, Smudge came out to say hello. He passed in his sleep in his 18th year. I built a coffin and then buried him out back by a tree. It was an Irish wake. I spent the late afternoon polishing off several cans of beer by his resting place until my wife made it home from work to join me.

We knew Smudge's time were limited, and with each new quirk, or signal of Bo's aging, we realize where Bo is in his life. However, that only encourages us to make him as comfortable and as happy as he can be. As he is a rescue dog pulled from a kill shelter in Ohio, his first life may not have been ideal, but his time with us will always be the best we can make it.

Hopefully, those final days are still a year or two away.


  1. Brian,
    I hope Bo has a few more years too. Our dog Martha is having trouble walking up the stairs now. Thank you for sharing your pet stories.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Thank you for sharing! Our dog will be nine years old soon and all of a sudden in the past few months we've started to notice that he's beginning to turn grey, and he's started sleeping most of the day. The realization that he's not a puppy anymore reminds us that neither are we!