Everybody, including me, loves puppies.
But you know what?
I'm starting to like old dogs better.
And old cats.
And even old ponies.
Here's my new motto:
Out with the new, in with the old.
I'm saying this because I'm starting to notice how adorable my dogs are as they get older. Tony is the oldest, at age 9, and he's got little white hairs on his muzzle, which is black, so he looks sugar-frosted all the time.
And he's gone deaf, but that doesn't matter, because he never listened anyway.
Peach is the second-oldest dog, at 8, and she's got the most adorable paunch ever. She never had it before, but it appeared as she grew older, even though she's eaten the exact same amount of dog food every day for her entire life.
I can relate.
Life is unfair, and aging less so.
But Peach looks even cuter with a paunch. And that's saying something, because she has four sets of nipples.
And both Peach and Tony behave differently as they've gotten senior, toddling around the house together, generally being calmer and sleeping more soundly. For example, Peach used to freak out when I left the house or came home, but yesterday when I opened the door, she just lay on her side in the entrance hall, perfectly still.
Of course I thought she was dead, and raced over.
I always think that about any animal I live with.
If they sleep too long, I'm sure they're dead.
Nobody gets any rest around me.
I'm on suicide watch for pets who are perfectly happy.
I've raced into a pasture to wake a sleeping horse.
That's how you know I love you.
I'm waking you up.
Anyway, when I found Peach motionless in the entrance hall, I immediately rushed to her side, ready to administer doggie CPR.
But she was only asleep, and woke up slowly, blinking like a little old lady.
I gave her mouth-to-mouth anyway.
Yes, I kiss my dogs.
You're missing out if you don't.
It's fun, and they never get grabby, if you know what I mean.
My other two dogs, Boone and Kit, are brothers, and they're both 6 years old, but they're slowly settling down. They've finally stopped barking at airplanes, but are still protecting me from squirrels.
They're protecting you, too — you just don't know it.
Looking back, I remember when they were young puppies and they would do puppy things. For example, my puppies never chewed shoes, they chewed rugs.
You know what's more expensive than shoes? Rugs.
And they also pooped and peed on rugs. Never on hardwood, always on the rug or the fringe of the rug.
Basically, rugs are in trouble whenever puppies are round.
And when they were puppies, I would say to myself, wait a few years and they'll settle down.
With puppies, we think they're better when they're older.
But not with people.
I'm not just saying this because I just had a birthday.
Because as I've said before, even though I'm older, I feel newer.
I can't explain it, but I just feel better. I'm doing more things; I'm trying new challenges. I'm going to try to write a different kind of book, historical fiction, in addition to the other books I write.
I'm not getting older, I'm just becoming professional.
A professional human being.
Older people are expert humans.
That's how we should start thinking about aging.
Even though I'm fully aware that numbers are reality.
I'm cheery, but I'm not stupid.
I know I'm one step closer to death.
Look at how long I've lived!
Ain't it great?
Shouldn't that be a plus, not a minus?
As you may know, my wonderful old pony Buddy passed away at age 32, and I heard that someone nearby had an old pony that needed a new home.
I thought to myself, should I call?
Am I young enough to outlive even an old pony?
But I don't care.
So I called, and who arrived at my house but a 15-year-old palomino quarter horse. He was owned by a wonderful girl who trained him to do everything a pony should do, and he's had such a great career that he's ready to semi-retire.
You know who's not?
So I got a new old pony!
His name is Tim.
His show name was Heart of Gold, and yes, he is a beautiful gold color and his mane is naturally blond, which is more than I can say for myself.
And he's perfectly obedient.
Also more than I can say for me.
True, he has lameness issues, but his years of experience have made him better than if he were a young buck.
When he might have bucked me off.
Now, he's an expert pony.
And I'll take care of him until the day he dies.
Or until I do.
In which case, he's in the will.