Lessons we have learned from Charlie

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, August 29, 2017

By Roger Boughton, Austin

He was just 3 ½ years old as dog years ago when we first picked him up at an animal shelter in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. My wife found him on the internet and asked our son living in Eau Claire at the time to take a look. He said, “Mom you have got to have that dog.”


When people asked what kind of dog he was, I would say “lap dog.” He would crawl up on our laps and seek out some love. He wasn’t exactly a pretty dog. He was partially black, some white spread throughout his body and a long tail that we often referred to as a rat tail.

He early and swiftly fitted into our family as there was just the two of us at the time and I was adjusting to retirement. Fourteen years have passed and now he is 98 years old as dog years go. Time has caught up with Charlie and his back legs often give out on him. When he is climbing stairs he first looks them over, waits several minutes to build up nerve and navigates sideways up the stairs.

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Sometimes when sleeping he dreams he is outside and leaks where it becomes necessary to change the bedding. On warm days he struggles to hike around the ball diamonds at the college and often moves slowly across the fields where once he ran.

Charlie has taught us many lessons about growing old. While not 98 years old, we do move slower and our balance is not always 100 percent. Our eye sight often fails to pick out the birds in the trees or our ears to hear the calls to their mates between the leaves high on a branch. However, like Charlie we appreciate each day and seek out the bedroom prior to the news and drift off in yet another pleasant dream with Charlie lying beside the bed.

Our definition of love has changed over the years as a result of Charlie’s love. We love each other not for our mistaken beauty and athleticism but for our compassion and caring for one another. Our uttered sentences are often made up of words asking our partner how do you feel, how you slept or what are your plans for the day. We navigate stairs much differently than 20 years ago. We do not take two steps at a time but ask ourselves as Charlie must do is it really necessary to go up and down these stairs again before bed?

Life has become much simpler. Charlie has forced us to think about the tomorrows and yester years and the time when we will no longer be around. Charlie soon will also be leaving us and that will be a time when we say goodbye and give thanks for a Charlie that came upon our lives and enriched our souls. We learned many lessons about life that will not soon be for gotten. Thank you Charlie!