So we all
Are growing old
And it’s getting old
Our hollow bones
and the varicose
But we’re not alone
So we all
Are growing old
~Silversun Pickups: Growing Old is Getting Old
Here’s the deal; we have a dog. Actually we have two, but this tale is only about one. The first one. The old one.
We don’t know her exact birthday, but she’s soon to turn fifteen or sixteen. She’s exactly old. I first saw Iona the Orange Beast on the internet in early 2001. I had been stalking a corgi rescue site for months and the moment I saw her, I knew I had to own her. Little did I know that she would be doing all the owning.
In her photos she was fat and she was smiling. I had to meet her. That night I told my then-husband, “We are getting a dog on Saturday!” Iona arrived in the back of a pickup truck, was fatter than her pictures conveyed, and smiled nonstop. She was also loud, and fast, and unbelievably bossy. She would herd me through the house and bite me in the heels. I was in love.
Over the years she has lost the weight, fought dogs five times her size, chased rollerbladers down the street, and once bolted after a giant deer. She has fallen off the bed more times than I can count and tumbled down the stairs in at least three houses.
Iona first stepped into the ocean in Carmel, rolled in the snow in Lake Arrowhead, and rode her first elevator in a Memphis hotel. She has roadtripped to the mountains, to Wisconsin and to Indiana. She was my faithful companion along the entire length of I-40 from California to North Carolina. She has her own wagon. She has been on boats. Iona easily has more miles on her than most people.
Iona is a teddy bear with teeth. She once accidentally split my lip open, and purposefully drew blood when I attempted to dress her in a pumpkin costume. She has yelled at everyone I love. If I recall correctly, she has lived with me in 13 homes, three states, and one hotel. She is on my second husband. In fact, I think she was in love with our Jason before I knew I was.
I wept when I first saw her hip dysplasia x-rays and sobbed uncontrollably five years later when they told me she had cancer. I was next to her for every treatment, surgery, and midnight emergency room visits. I held her through all the pain, and in turn, she let me hold her.
My dear girl used to hear a banana being peeled from across the house; she knew the sound of my car from three blocks away and would greet me dancing at the door. She is now mostly deaf, almost blind, and sleeps most of her days away. She’s on five different medications. She still smiles.
Getting old for her is getting old. Getting old for her is harder for us, than for her. She’s my heart, she’s my girl; she’s my Iona.