Growing old….

Written by Lincoln’s Mom:

A couple of weekends ago, while at the cabin on a beautiful morning, I grabbed my coffee, my dogs, and my camera, and headed down to the dock. I brought a book, too, but it’s always hard to concentrate. The sheer beauty of the surroundings and the constant lake flurry is distracting. The book was quickly discarded while I watched the duck and geese parents shepherd their babies hither and yon, and the boats with the fishers and the boats with wake-boarders, or the ospreys, or the eagles, or…well, you get my point.

Truth be told, though, the real distraction was Lincoln. He’s getting gray. His muzzle and face are turning white. I wonder how this crept up on me. Certainly the whiteness didn’t appear over night.  For a moment, I was panicked.


Then it hit me….I shouldn’t view this as something bad. I should celebrate. This is Lincoln, the dog who was beaten and abused, who has been cut up and lost body parts, who has had brain surgery and knee surgery and chemotherapy. Lincoln, the dog who has not only accepted, but embraced his new reality time after time after time. Lincoln, who runs and smiles and swims like there is no tomorrow.   He reminds me of this quote by Voltaire, “Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.”


I never thought this day would come, I guess. I now realize that deep down, in the awful and dark places inside of me, I never believed that Lincoln’s hair had any chance at all to turn white. I didn’t have any real hope that I would get to see him age. It didn’t matter to me, though. I accepted long ago, probably in the brain tumor days, that he would likely not live out his life in a normal way. He will be ten this year. He is a giant dog. He has had more health issues than any creature should ever have to endure.

I think that’s why it came as such a surprise. I just never expected it, as awesome as it is. I didn’t plan for it, or look for it. It just happened. Seemingly overnight.


He has the heart of a lion, and the courage of a warrior. He is just as you would expect a golden retriever to be. He has no ulterior motives and he carries no grudges. His memory is short. I envy that.

Even as I write this I’m especially aware of how awful this sounds. I’m horrified to be talking about Lincoln growing old when so many others are not given that chance. I think of brothers lost and the legion of canine companions taken from us far too soon. I remember too well the tragedy and the ragged, despairing grief that thrives on it, the very worst of parasites.

And so I say again, my dog, my amazing, brave, resilient, irrepressible dog is getting old. I say it with reverence and with respect and sorrow for those, both human and canine, who were not allowed this same chance. I thank those who lead the way down the path I will surely find myself on, either sooner or later. Their journey is mine from which to learn. I won’t squander the lessons.

Lincoln has overcome more adversity than I could ever recognize. I finally understand, however, that when it comes to him, I will only be appreciative for what we have, and let go of what we have lost. He certainly has, and I owe him that. If he can do it, I can too.

Lincoln is getting old. His fur is growing white. I am grateful beyond words.

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.  ~Epictetus

——– In loving memory of Catie Caitlin, who was with us largely, but not nearly long enough. May her beautiful spirit live far longer than her body. ————-