Our beautiful shepherd mix, Chessie, is almost fifteen. She limps from arthritis when she walks, and is almost totally deaf. She has to be taken out more often and cannot go on the long walks we used to enjoy. When there is a sharp noise of any kind, she gets up from where she was sleeping, and with a reproachful glance at me, seeks a quieter place in the house. She has lumps all over under her fur and while I do not take medications myself, I succumbed to the suggestions of the vet for medication for the arthritis and other problems. We have not ever had a dog live past fourteen so I am grateful I did not lose Chessie when I lost my Frank. She listens to my troubles and comes and lies by my feet when she senses I am upset about something. One could not ask for a more loyal friend.

It is sad that we generally outlive our pets. One day they are a playful puppy and getting into everything and the next they have gray whiskers and they are slowing down. I heard that a great dane starts getting old at five. Some smaller dogs live 16 or more years. It seems to depend on the breed. In any case, I am glad to have my Chessie for as long as she is with me. Her loving and gentle spirit will be hard to replace.