Featured photo: Fen a few weeks ago when he had a sprained ankle.

A few weeks ago when we took our 9-year-old Australian shepherd mix to the vet because of some stomach problems, the doctor told us he was now in his “geriatric” era. 

It was a shock to hear.

We’ve had Fenris — named after the Norse beast who wouldn’t stop growing — since 2014, just six months after Sam and I had gotten together. I don’t really remember that well (my memory is notoriously terrible), but apparently I told Sam I was adopting Fen whether he liked it or not.

Nine years later and my once energetic puppy who would wake up in the middle of the night to throw around toys and play alone, is slowing down.

He has trouble descending our back steps. He sleeps longer. He’s less enthusiastic about going on walks.

His ears are turning grey.

It’s a strange feeling because we don’t have kids. And most parents usually hope to pass away before their human children. But those of us who choose to have children of the furry variety don’t get so lucky.

We watch as they age from pesky puppies or crafty kittens to geriatric dogs and crusty cats.

And this isn’t my first go-round. 

As a child, I had a pet pug who ended up living to about 13. We watched as he started to lose his eyesight and eventually wobbled more than walked when he tried to move around. We buried him in our backyard at the treeline of our woods.

But this time is a little different.

Fen is a dog that I picked myself. 

We drove to the South Carolina border and paid a mere $100 to adopt him from a small rescue. He was named Snowflake on the posting, and he sat in the center of a giant food bowl, clearly the goof amongst his siblings who properly ate from outside the dish.

He didn’t bark until a few weeks after we had adopted him, and then he basically never stopped.

He loves peanut butter, but it gives him crazy diarrhea.

He hates the sound of the garbage truck.

He loves his stuffed ducks.

He’s my best friend.

And after nine years, I’m grateful to have a dog like him.

Because as annoying, loud and cranky as he is sometimes, he’s mine, and I, his.

Join the First Amendment Society, a membership that goes directly to funding TCB‘s newsroom.

We believe that reporting can save the world.

The TCB First Amendment Society recognizes the vital role of a free, unfettered press with a bundling of local experiences designed to build community, and unique engagements with our newsroom that will help you understand, and shape, local journalism’s critical role in uplifting the people in our cities.

All revenue goes directly into the newsroom as reporters’ salaries and freelance commissions.

⚡ Join The Society ⚡