Updated: Sep 14, 2022
Welcome to this week's episode of 15 minutes to Life and Happiness. This week, I wanted to share with you my story about the happiest soul I have ever met. My dog Buxton.
It's not that she wags her tail more than most dogs or that she can do that happy dog dance wiggling her butt all over the place while humming that hap hap happy dog song. She also can't fetch Timmy from a well, and she is otherwise a pretty normal dog, except for one thing - she's 15.
She's a Labrador mix with what I was told was a Weimaraner that made me fall in love with her the second I saw her. I was thinking of getting some sort of water dog at the time, as I was sailing on a daily basis and I wanted a companion for my long hours on the boat.
I saw her online at the New Jersey Puppy rescue out of Milford, New Jersey back in 2007. She was six weeks old and had ice blue eyes and a silver coat that fit like a poorly fitting set of footy pajamas. I joked when I scratched her ears for the first time that the guy who made her left too much fabric on this puppy.
But 15 years later, she still has too much fabric, but I am afraid she doesn't have that much time left. Labs live an average of 10-12 years and Weimaraners only slightly longer, 10-14. She had her 14th birthday last November. But I kind of think, with her attitude, she'll make it to this November too.
You see she runs, or more like trots quickly, a half a mile behind me and my other dog Paisley each morning on our five-mile walk around the park where we live. She doesn't go too fast and struggles a bit harder every day to finish the walk, but she loves it and wakes each morning with a wagging tail and baying howl when it's time for my wife to leave for work. She knows that it's time to go walking.
Paisley has no problem on the walk. For that matter, nothing is too hard for Paisley. She is a vivacious young pup in comparison to Buxton, a four-year-old, perfectly quaffed, black lab/Chesapeake Bay retriever mix we fell in love with on Harkers Island in North Carolina.
Paisley's tail never stops wagging, and she has a tough time holding her licker. She loves long full-body nuzzles on the couch and getting her hair blow-dried each morning by my wife. She also has to have her food heated and hates most fruit and a good number of vegetables.
Buxton eats everything. Carrots, oranges, collard greens, spinach. I don't think I have ever found something Buxton won't eat, including boat fenders, pressure-treated 4x4s, and cat turds. Paisley has a more discerning pallet.
But maybe that's where Buxton gets her happiness from - multiple pathways to a full belly. A warm spot next to the bed to sleep in each night- and long walks each morning. Dogs are quite easy to please. I wish I was as easy to please as she is.
But what is so amazing about Buxton's happiness is she is 15. That's 105 in dog years. I needed a calculator to figure that out.
She is older than most dogs ever get and most people too,, but she still wags her tail. Her joints are stiff, her coat is a bit thin, and she has this thing where she gets moles all over her body that she scratches and makes bleed.
But She still leans in for scritches on her chest and still rolls around with Paisley on the front patio, bearing teeth in a play fight with her younger sibling. She even gets frog butt every once in a while still, and takes long swims by herself when we go to the beach. She finds happiness where ever she goes because she's got the experience of an old dog and the spirit of a puppy.
I'd expect Paisley to be happy all the time, as she has the advantage of youth and strength and blow-drying sessions from my wife.
Buxton needs help getting in the car these days, as her back legs are too weak to jump and the arthritis in her shoulders hurts too bad to pull herself in the car. I have to lift her in, and she goes limp when I wrap my arms under her chest to pick her up. I don't even think she minds the embarrassment, the same way old men lift the sheets in a hospital room when the nurse says it's bath time. She lived long enough to have Daddy pick her up when it's time to go, so be it- she's earned the right.
I guess I am so enamored with her lust for life because the old people I knew-my grandparents, my parents - all complained about getting old. Buxton never says a thing when she is sore or tired or pissed off that the cat is hogging the dog bed.
She really only whines when she's cold or hot, and we have left her outside too long. Mostly she barks- to defend us against the woman walking her kids down to the store, or to warn of an impending squirrel attack. Usually, though, she barks out of excitement that it's dinner time. Her priorities are pretty set in after 15 years.
But whether she lives another month, another year, or another decade, she has taught me one thing. You don't have to be unhappy when you're old. Find a snack that puts a smile on your face, take long walks on the land and swim in the lake whenever you can. Always share your belly for scritches and never take yourself too seriously. Thanks for listening. Buxton is sitting right here, wagging her tail. I think she liked this. I hope you did too. Be well. B bye.