You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

posted by Momo Fali on May 3, 2011

This past Sunday morning, my husband was off running 26.2 miles, which meant that I had to make my own coffee and walk the dogs.  Um…rude!

The coffee making wasn’t too bad because I have one of those single-cup thingies now, which means I didn’t have to do much other than push one button.  I wish you could push a button for picking up dog poop.

But, the real challenge in walking the dogs is that we have one that just turned 13 and another one that just turned 2.  Their energy levels are slightly different.  So are their joints.  While one could easily clear a fence, the other one can barely stand up.

My husband is brave enough to take the dogs off of their leashes at the park near our house, despite Daisy (the young dog) once sending a lady over her handlebars when she ran out of the woods right onto a bike path.  And the fact that, just last week, she rolled in a maggot-infested, dead rat.  Side note to the hawk who drops rodents from the sky around here:  Pick smaller prey.

I don’t particularly like dealing with angry bikers with head injuries nor do I want to wash maggots off of my dog…again…so, on Sunday, I took Daisy out in the yard with a ball and a ball-chucker to work off some excess energy that couldn’t be worked off with a regular walk.  Also, thank you to the person who invented the tool that allows dog owners to NOT touch the slobbery ball.  I love you.  Really.

The entire time that Daisy was playing fetch, Blue (the old dog) was sitting at the front window, whining.  I watched her pacing and crying for 20 minutes.  I felt so bad, that after I took Daisy inside, I took Blue out for some one-on-one time.

Blue immediately picked up a big stick and pranced around the yard to show me that, despite being 13 years old, she’s still got it and I was quick to tell her so.  There was a lot of her looking proud and a lot of me saying, “Ohhhh!  Blue has a big stick!  She’s a big dog!”.  And, also a lot of my neighbors looking at me funny.

Then she dropped the stick and started tearing at the grass with her teeth to show me, again, that she’s still got it.  I was happy to see her spunk.

A few seconds later, she found a tennis ball laying in the grass and brought it to me.  I looked into her eyes and saw the puppy that I picked out 13 years ago, this month, when she was barely four weeks old and her head made her so top-heavy that she fell over.  I asked, “Are you sure, girl?  You want me to throw the ball?”  She looked back at me, panting, her ears perked, just waiting for me to tell her to “go get it”.

I threw the ball to the back of the yard and watched as she clumsily trotted after it.  Her front legs ran while her back legs stayed stiff, but she gave it her best effort.

Until she tripped on a tree root.

She landed in the mud with one hind leg facing forward and the other hind leg trapped behind her.  She was doing the equivalent of the doggie-splits and couldn’t get up.

I ran to her, clasped my hands under her belly and lifted her back to her feet.

Then I crouched down in front of her and rubbed her neck, nuzzled my face close to hers and said, “See, old girl…you’ve still got it.  At least Daisy can’t do that.”


  • Amanda

    Stop living my life! 🙂 While my husband runs, I push the Keurig buttons (do you have a second one in your bedroom, too) and my 3yo English Mastiff wears me out while I’m feeding joint pills to my 13yo lab who almost weekly commits labicide trying to keep up with the puppy. Tell Blue she rocks.

  • BEAN

    Sewer. Blue… (heart)

    Ok, my iPhone changed ‘Awwww’ to “sewer” and I’m keeping it.

    • Momo Fali

      That is classic! And, I foresee that we will be saying “sewer” in place of “awwww” from now on.

  • Tela

    I thought that Blue made Bean’s heart drop so much, it was in the sewer. I thought it was rather poetic.

    Did Husband run the Pig? I might’ve cheered him on. We cheered a many of runners that went by our house, until my 4-year-old decided (loudly) that RUNNING IS BORING and demanded to go inside and out of the rain.

    • Momo Fali

      He did run the Pig! Tell your 4 year old that my husband didn’t like the rain either!

  • john cave osborne

    a few things here:

    props to your hubby.
    maggots are gross.
    i love dogs.
    i don’t even mind the dog slobber.
    and the split the old dog did sounds like a varsity move to me.

  • Julia @ 1001tealcranes

    Lurked around for a bit. Found you on BD’s page and then PioneerWoman. Had to comment on this. Love that you gave Blue the extra added attention. Great story. Thanks for making me tear up at work!

  • Melisa

    Oh my gosh. Bless Blue’s heart. I love this.

  • always home and uncool

    I just trying to find a button to push to get my wife to pick up dog poop.

    Give Blue a good scratch behind the ears for me.

  • dysfunctional mom

    Poor old girl, she needs one of those life-alert buttons. Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!

  • Jamie

    Awwwwwwwww! OUr dog is one and a big lab, 80 pounds of fence jumping doi, I am going to try to enjoy her more now.

  • lceel

    Damn, Momo. I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes.

    And in my mind I’m hearing the refrain from an old Peter, Paul & Mary song – “Singin’ Heeeere, Old Blue, you’re a good dog, you.”

    Of course, everybody sang that song.

    Pete Seeger. Tom Paxton. The Blues Brothers. (they were color coordinated singers) Even I sang it. But I never got paid or famous or nuthin’. I’m just average.

    Now you know why I’ve got tears in my eyes.

  • Sarah

    That made me cry Momo. At work. Thanks a lot! 😉 You are such a good doggie mom! I wish you were my neighbor.

    p.s. if you discover the push a button method of cleaning up dog poop, please let me know.

  • Sharon

    Hi. I am pretty new to this blog world (sheltered life.) I came upon your site via Anymommy. Anyhow, I love your Blue, and your Daisy. I have lived those moments and dearly miss my senior citizen but am looking forward to the day we can handle some puppy energy! Atta girl Blue!

  • Oscar

    A one button poop picker. Hmmmm. Lemme work on that. I have 2 dogs with an age gap too. I can relate!

    Nice post. made me smile as always!

  • weaselmomma

    Awwwwwww. I could picture the entire scene and must say that Blue is a heart stealer. I think it runs in the family.

  • meleah rebeccah

    Awwwww! I am gushing over here!

  • Heather

    Awww. At my Mom’s house, our old lab Abs has to chase the ball 2 or 3 times at LEAST. Then we have to walk her every other day (she has awful hips). My mom is starting to realize that she is actually demanding the walking and ball throwing cause she wants to prove she’s still got it too 😉

  • memaw

    awe, wiping tears off my cheek. 2 months ago lost my best girl ever after 13 1/2 years, up until the day before, she still had it too, loved her tennis balls. the young one (3 year old lab) totally still has it, but I miss my libby love something fierce. enjoy you old one as much as you can, just being with them is all they want. sigh, it’s all i want too.

  • Monica

    You know, I get all misty when people write mushy stuff about old dogs. Mine died 6.5 years ago, and I miss her all the time! We have a new dog now…but the good ones never leave you. Thanks for the tears today, I was feeling too happy anyway. 🙂

  • AlisonH

    That is one lucky dog–no, both of them–to have you as their owner.

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