Posted: March 5, 2021 in: Pain-2-Power, Personal Empowerment


*but I’m trying

Charlie, my beagle, is 14-years-old.  His vision is failing some.  I have to speak more loudly, in order to tell him how much I love him (which I do quite a lot).  And his miraculous sense of smell must be a little less than it once was, because it takes him a bit to find an errant treat on the floor, which used to be one or two seconds.  Yet Charlie is still, in many ways, a better being than I and continues to suggest ways I can improve.

I’m trying.

First of all, Charlie is always up for a good time.  With his energy lower, he has still never turned down my suggestion, “Let’s go outside.”  He has never walked away from me when I am holding a toy and invited him for a game of tug.

Second, Charlie does not surrender.  Period.  He has courage.  Real courage.  Ring the doorbell, and he barks about being ready to rumble.  With the door open, he quickly calibrates my movements and those of the visitor and (I have no doubt) would join any fight in which I found myself.  He would never let up.  On the other hand, if I’m happy to see the visitor, so is Charlie.  The more, the merrier, so long as no one means any harm.

Third, Charlie shows up.  Every hour of every day.  There are 12 steps from the first floor of my office to the second floor.  If he’s sleeping, and I haven’t carried him up those steps with me when I switch work places, he’ll awaken within 20 minutes or so.  And if I haven’t heard his nails tapping on the hardwood, he will walk each step from side-to-side, zig-zagging his way upstairs to join me.  Even when I reach him 6 steps into the journey, he’ll be breathing heavily.  I carry him the rest of the way on those occasions, but, otherwise, he spends the energy to make it to his bed beside my desk.  Period.

Fourth, Charlie is unerringly empathetic.  He doesn’t miss an emotional beat.  If I’m stressed out or in pain, he knows it and throws himself into the moment.  Literally.  When I ripped up my rotator cuff and was up all night in pain, Charlie was pressed against me in bed or against the side of my recliner.  I would feel or hear him plunk down beside me.  If I got up to pace, so did he.  He looked so worried that I had to reassure him repeatedly that I was okay.

Fifth, Charlie knows the value of one day, even one hour.  Maybe I imagine it, but I do imagine that he measures time as “time together.”  And that moves me to focus on the moment when we just hang out (which is nowhere near often enough).

Lastly (although I really could go on and on), Charlie accepts love.  He is always ready for a belly rub or scratches behind his ears.  He listens—really listens—when I tell him what a great dog he is and how he’s done everything a dog could do in his 14 years to distinguish himself as a worthy and magnificent creature.

I don’t imagine I will learn everything Charlie has to teach me about life before one of us leaves this earth, but I imagine he knows that, too.  And—oh—I forgot this:  I believe he forgives it, instantly (meaning, my inability to fully internalize his teachings).  I believe he forgives everything else imperfect about me, too.

Dr. Keith Ablow



  1. Keith Ablow says:

    Elizabeth: Thank you for your comment. I know you know. Keith

  2. Keith Ablow says:

    Thanks, Dale. Much appreciated. Charlie makes it easy to wax eloquent, if I have.

  3. elizabeth Jeffett says:

    Charlie is a living embodiment of unconditional love, the most profound desire we all share. Charlie is the perfect gift of unerring love and approval. Elizabeth Jeffett, friend and fellow author.

  4. Dale E Toney says:

    Epic. Brilliant. Moving.

    You found a entry point into every dog lovers heart on planet earth.