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In praise of 'old dogs'
A beloved story by The Washington Post's Gene Weingarten has prompted over 200 THE WEEK readers to share stories about their own dogs' last days. Here are our favorites.
 

Over a year ago, THE WEEK shared with its readers an essay by The Washington Post's Gene Weingarten called "Why old dogs are the best dogs." This immensely popular story continues to inspire THEWEEK.com commenters to share their own stories. Here, ten of our favorite reader contributions:

1. Old dogs are perfect for adopting: "I have a 12-year old Chihuahua who was left at a shelter a year ago because [the previous owner] 'couldn't stand to watch him grow old.' As I type, he sits on the keyboard tray and licks my hand. What a gift to be loved by an old dog!" — AJ, November 15, 2009

2. Old dogs are loyal to the end: "Our 17-year old rat terrier stayed by my husband when he had cancer. She slept by him at all times. She hadn't been outside for year. The day my husband passed away she went outside and wouldn't come back in. Two days later, she also passed away. That was two years ago and I still cry when I visit their graves. I buried them next to each other." — Jane, November 9, 2009

3. A dog's death gives us a channel to show grief: "Being a retired law enforcement type, I rarely show my grief — except when it comes time to put a dog down due to age or illness. Then I cry... openly." — PMW, June 13, 2009

4. Dogs exemplify unconditional love: "I am an old, frail, crotchety and vulnerable grandma now. I wept as I read "Why old dogs are the best dogs." I've loved and lost so many dogs, and know how true it is that they age without burdening us with complaints." — Marylou Richards, October 28

5. Last thoughts on an old friend: "We have to put our 12-year old Australian shepherd down tomorrow. He is our gentle giant, so loving and appreciative of the little things. It seems cruel to put him to sleep but crueler to make him suffer the effects of lymphoma. I dread having him look at me one last time with those big dark eyes, thinking that I will take him for yet another walk." — Donn, July 1, 2009

6. With an old dog's vulnerability comes new trust:
"My beloved Echo, a black Lab/golden mix, grows grayer by the day. I see in her not only a new vulnerability, but also so much trust and love that it makes me feel unworthy. When I treat Echo with the solicitude one gives to an old dog — steadying her when she falters, helping her should she stumble or fall — she looks at me with those eyes spilling over with gratitude. I tell her that I am the one who should be grateful for all the lessons she has taught me." — Karen Fidei, November 7, 2009

7. A new puppy rekindles an old dog's spirit: "Our 14-year-old dog practically stopped moving out of remorse [after we had to put down our second dog]. We quickly adopted a new puppy and the older dog's life has been transformed. We watch, astonished, as they play together. No longer does our old dog hike 30 feet behind us at her own pace — now she proudly and briskly walks ahead of us as assuming her new role as a guide and teacher." — Limey, October 23, 2009

8. Nearly 20 years of loyalty: "After reading the article, I hugged our 19-year old miniature schnauzer. Although he's almost totally blind and quite deaf, he is still a joy. He loves to stand outside on our hill and just stare at the world, occasionally trotting around the house … He sleeps in our bed and often I wake up to find his head on my pillow. I will miss him terribly." – Jim C, July 17, 2009

9. Dealing with the loss of an old dog: "Today we must put down our 12-year old arctic wolf/shepherd/husky, Smoke. We will remember him always, flying across the field, his ears pinned back, smiling, wanting only to be next to us. It has been over a year since he's been able to run...today he will again run free." – Jeffrey Lippa, June 20, 2009

10. Old dog's presence a blessing: " My 11-year old black lab Blitz is stiffer these days, but every once in a while he gets excited and does a little 'puppy whirl.' I love it when he lies by my feet and silently waits while I read, watch TV, or solve a puzzle. We are so lucky to have his calming presence in our lives." - Becky, June 14, 2009

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