Senior Dogs as Social Mediums

Some of us are more comfortable typing our lives away in front of a computer screen while the world goes on without us outside. Some of us are even satisfied that "social media" is a substitute for getting out there and meeting some real people in the good old outdoors.

Getting out forces you to live life in real time instead of in fits or blurbs of 140 characters at a time like folks do on Twitter.

Walking with your senior dog forces you to slow down and appreciate everything that nature has to offer. Smell the flowers. Sit down and take a break on a park bench or in a quiet place in the shade. The sounds and sights are amazing if you take a moment to capture them.

You also get to meet all sorts of people and their animals. If we just consider the wild animals population (crows, rabbits, and field mice where we live), me and my old dog get plenty of action just watching (and occasionally talking with) our local fauna. For the most part this means watching from a distance, but each of us is respectful of the other and acknowledges our presence.

Of the four legged variety, we've met hundreds of dogs over the last two years. I guess that it's been somewhere over 1,000 in all of the places that we've visited just within a two mile radius. Usually it's the more mature dogs that have the confidence and smarts to greet one of their own in a mutually pleasing way (a quick sniff and some wags). Your mileage may vary, but for me and my pup, we get along with other happy and confident dogs that have been altered. Occasionally we'll come across a puppy that wants to play, which works just as well as long as they're not getting too rowdy and want to wrestle. Rusty doesn't mind a little of that, but is a competitive soul and will get up and try to "win" which can be scary for many other dogs when they have an 80 lb. monster forcing them down.

It's usually the two legged variety that we get to interact most. A large personal trainer who will set his class to task so he can take a break to come and pet Rusty, the occasional kids playing in the park that want to say hi or just get a little closer to see a dog if they don't have one of their own, the jogger who stopped to give Rusty a hug because he misses an old dog like him who is no longer with us, a young lady who wanted to talk about what's going on in the neighborhood and had to juggle her coffee after Rusty leaned in for a quick rub are just some of the folks we meet.

We've also met plenty of folks who recognize and old soul and want to introduce their own senior dog or talk about one that's meant a lot to them. My favorite of all time remains some of my neighbors who came over to introduce their new older shelter dog who they got after seeing me with the Mighty Boo Boo years ago walking in the park.

I'm grateful for all I've learned from all of them. I'd encourage you to get out there and make some memories with your neighbors in real time.

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