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My Senior Dog Is Deaf But Full of Joy

A dog in a red harness matches the autumn leaves on the trail.

Casey loves his walk as much as ever.

From day one we’ve called Casey a ginger dog, but “autumn leaf dog” would do as well–and applies to his stage of life. At 10, he’s as chipper as ever but has spinal arthritis and is well on his way to stone deaf.

Once he could hear a banana being peeled from two rooms away. He could distinguish my husband’s footfall (big banana chunk coming his way) from mine (out of luck). Now he can’t hear the kibble striking the bowl. He rarely answers to his name, although he still hops to it when Paul makes that goofy, guyish whoop I can’t begin to imitate. At daycare, where he used to be unfailingly cheerful, he’s had a few minor dustups with other dogs. It figures: He can’t hear them coming and does not take kindly to finding them in his space. He’s not one to hold a grudge, but the daycare people aren’t taking any chances. When he checks in, they apply the “deaf” icon they use to head off squabbles.

We’re a family of geezers now. I’ve often asked myself, when my bad foot complains, “How much worse is this going to get?” I’ve compared my current gait to the effortless stride of years ago. A friend and I, on a walk that pushed us both to the limit, caught ourselves reminiscing about how much further and faster we went only yesterday.

Casey doesn’t trouble himself with comparisons, or picture himself on one of those doggie wheelchairs. His life suits him fine the way it is, and mine goes better when I follow his example. Sometimes we bounce along together like a sprite of 50 and her puppy. Lucky us.


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About Me

I’m an author and keynote speaker who found happiness at 65—a story I tell in my new memoir Starter Dog: My Path to Joy, Belonging and Loving This World. In a former life as Editor of Chatelaine, Canada’s premier magazine, I disclosed my struggle with depression and helped kickstart a national conversation about mental health. I’ve been married more than 50 years and am a firm believer that road trips go better with a dog in the back seat. I’ve learned plenty about staying well from people with diplomas on their walls but my best mental health coach is a rescue dog named Casey.

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