Introducing Sky: A Lesson In Elderhood
I’m going to go off topic, if you would permit me. We’re not talking about aging today (well maybe, but not directly).
Instead I would like to introduce Sky. This feisty Belgian Malinois has trained in the hyper physical dog sport Schutzhund, titled in Rally, and is a diabetic alert dog (she can actually smell if your blood sugar is low or high).
Last month she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in her left leg, which was later amputated to save her life. Now, losing a leg could be devastating to such an active dog. She will never be able to compete at the same level she once did. But if you take a second to go to our facebook page and watch the attached videos you might see a different narrative taking hold.
Instead of resigning to a life of disability, inactivity, and purposelessness Sky is determined to never say die. In the videos on Facebook she can be seen doing nose work (searching for scents) and focused heeling with her owner Tecla Walton, and she retains her abilities as a diabetic alert dog. Through it all Sky remains one of the sweetest and most loving dogs I have ever met.
Now for the juicy part.
The point I’m not trying to make is the declinist view that sky is worthless for her lost leg. Nor am I taking the (misguided) view that we should be forever youthful even when we’re not (The 80-year-old who runs a marathon. Makes a nice story but kind of misses the point). Life’s circumstances are guaranteed to change; often in ways we might not like or want to accept. But, that does not mean we should be robbed of purpose and passion.
Sky’s life will be forever and profoundly changed by the loss of her leg. Yet she teaches us that different does not mean ‘game over’ and disability is not the same as meaninglessness. Sky is an elder here to teach us how to live.