My Rowan is twelve today. In some ways it is hard to believe he’s that old, but then I see him get up slooowly from one of his frequent naps, and I’m reminded that he is no longer a youngster. We spend more time snuggling than playing these days, but every now and then Rowan looks at me with a gleeful glint in his eye and then leaps into the air and darts back and forth in front of me. He did that yesterday when I walked to the car and back; he was overflowing with joy that I hadn’t gone away without him. I overflow with joy and gratitude every time he does that.
No matter how deeply Rowan is sleeping, if I say the magic words, “Do you want to go with me?” he leaps to his feet and runs to the front door, where he dances impatiently until we go out together. He flops into his spot in my car (the floor of the passenger side), always facing me, and happily stays in the car until we’re back home, sleeping some of the time, but frequently opening his eyes to check on my. If I reach down at a red light, he rests his chin in my palm, and sighs contentedly. So do I; it feels so good to have my boy with me wherever I am. Now that the weather is warming up, he can’t go out with me often, since he is retired from formal Service Dog work for the most part, but whenever I can, I schedule errands for cool mornings.
|Rowan in his spot in my car|
As I type, I hear Rowan snoring behind me. I know no matter how quietly I get up to leave the room, he’ll open an eye to see what I’m up to. If I turn off the light as I leave the room, he’ll get up and follow me. If I don’t turn off a light, he’ll wait in his comfortable spot on the floor to see if I’m coming back, but inevitably within just a few minutes he’ll come find me, flop down near me, and fall asleep again after watching me closely for a minute or two.
|On a recent walk– my faithful, happy shadow|
These days with an older dog are challenging both due to aging health issues and because of the backdrop of uncertainty that hangs heavy at times, but they are also wonderful in a way unique to a connection forged over years of time growing together. Rowan has long since shed the reactivity of his younger years and has become the most connected, intuitive dog I have ever known. I have grown in more ways than I could write, thanks to what he needed from me to help him learn and grow from an impulsive young dog to a steady Service Dog capable of traveling around the country with me and thanks to his faithful, loving presence in my life. I don’t know how much longer Rowan will be with me, but I treasure every day we have together, and hope we still have years to enjoy the connection and partnership we have grown.
Happy twelfth Birthday, Rowan! I am so thankful for you.