He's 13, his breath smells really bad, he's deaf, he walks like a retired football player, begs with renewed vigor and is increasingly obstinate.
Indeed, the old dog experience is so different than the young dog experience. He's still the same sweet dog, but with new quirks that keep things new, even in old age. He is not the Frisbee catching dog of yesteryear. He is more like Jabba the Hut. A deaf Jabba the Hut with with a better disposition.
His deafness is sad and amusing at the same time. When he was younger - he would greet us at the door. A good guard dog, it was impossible to sneak up on him. These days he doesn't hear us come home. Often, we have to walk all the way to his bed and wake him up to say "we're home!" You can't help but think his inner dog voice is saying "Ooops. That's not supposed to happen."
There are also the times when we arrive to hear him howling this terribly lonesome howl. It sounds so sad. "Poor meeeeee", "All aloooone". Once we come into the room he gets so excited. We muse that, in his mind, he thinks "It worked! The howling worked! Again!"
Speaking of howling - we love to convince him to howl on command. You'd laugh at us - we both throw our heads back in a chorus of human howling to set the example for him. It works. What we discovered last night is that the actual howling is now optional. All we have to do is throw our heads back and he gets it. Dog sign language is now his best way of listening to us.
He commands a little more of us too. As Sachi would tell you, when she met him 8 years ago, he didn't beg at all. These days, he's a professional beggar and it's impossible to say no to an old dog. (Side note: don't you think it's interesting that he's begun begging since meeting Sachi? Hmmm.) Anyway, he'll now go so far as to bark at us to say "I want your FOOD!" We don't look kindly upon this, but it's hard to say no. I dole out leftovers to him in bits, just to spend some quality time interacting.
But don't feel sorry for this dog. Working from home means we're with him all the time and we know he's sore with arthritis. Sachi makes sure that he's never cold and keeps him covered with a blanket. Of course, he now expects the blanket and will wait by the bed for it. Can you believe that? He expects a blanket over him? Anything for Amos.
We've talked about saving some DNA in case cloning was possible in the future - I would take another Amos in a second. I think everyone should have one, young and old. We know our time with him is growing shorter by the day and do everything we can to make his old age comfortable for us both, even if that means old dog breath in your face while watching a movie on the couch. Somehow, it's really, really nice.