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Can you love someone with bad breath?
Can you hold someone close who has a leaky urine smell?
Can you keep eye contact with a warm open heart with someone who is having irrepressible outbursts?
Can you find a kind way to continue serving food to someone who is so finicky they often won’t eat and most times just stare at you and walk away?

The answer is absolutely, I not only can but do!

My dog Jazz has all these issues and I love her with all my heart.
She is 13 years old (that’s about the age of my Nana Edith who died at 91 and I loved her to the moon and back).

Jazz waiting for me to snuggle her.

Jazz and I didn’t take marriage vows when we committed to each other but we might as well have. On an impulse, I purchased Jazz, it was a mix of desperation and instinct. Jazz was runty but cute and I couldn’t resist her. I needed a dog that minute and when I picked her up from a “bin” of pups she melted in my arms. I have loved her from that moment on.

I needed her that very day, just 10 days after losing my dog JoJo who was overcome with sadness after losing her master and my husband just 10 days before that.

Jazz has been my steady best friend ever since. Without judgement she has loved me through ups and downs and has not disappointed. I held her tight, when my youngest left for college, just one year later. I cried into her furry neck too many nights to count and she licked the tears from my face. We spooned when loneliness overwhelmed me, and tucking under the covers and watching a movie with her late at night brought the calm I so needed.

Jazz is a great talker.

Each morning we walk side by side and welcome the day. Her morning routine is mine as well.

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And most importantly, my husband Bill loves her too, although it has taken some adjustment. Jazzy has made her way between us late into the night and he has learned to accept this. Jazz after all, lay by him for months as he healed after a treacherous bike accident. She would not leave his side until he was ready to go out on his own. He learned quickly how healing her loyalty and love could be.

Jazz was at our wedding 2 years after we met. She has been under our covers, on our sofas, in airplanes with us and as a sometimes invited guest in our friends and families homes. She has even made the rounds of laps at our book clubs.

My friends who are not dog lovers profess she is different.
The vet tells me she is uniquely special (I don’t question whether he says that to everyone).

Jazz has been at the kids’ high school graduation, college and graduate school events. She has been there for engagements and weddings for jewish holidays and Christmas.

Jazz has never been to a kennel, we have traveled together as much as possible and when she’s not with me, friends and family have cared for her. She has only known human kindness and has responded in kind.

I am quick to admit that Jazz to some may appear runty, and for those large dog racial profilers, not worthy enough to be considered a real dog. But, make no mistake, she is indeed perfect if playfulness, smarts, and looks are pre-requisites for an ideal pup.

But now Jazz is 13 and she’s got issues. Like so many of our moms we read about on Betterafter50.com, the tables have turned. She is definitely needing more than she can give. She gets more anxious, barks a bit more, and can’t control her bladder at times. And did I mention her breath?

But what is love. Is it not the contract we make to love through thick and thin? I am keenly aware that I am in charge of her days. I am her keeper and feel the deep responsibility of being her guardian til the end, which is not insignificant I may add.

So on this Valentine’s Day I wanted to express out loud, my loyalty and love to my pup and, luckily, my husband agrees as well, which is why I feel particularly lucky this February 14th.

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