Watching Our Boxer Grow Old

I don’t have to look down near my feet to know my dog is there. I can hear her ears flap when she suddenly decides to wildly shake her body. When I turn down the music I can hear her take deep breaths. I can even smell her. But not in a bad way. Elka keeps herself very clean, but she has a unique scent that tells me she’s my dog.

It’s been this way for nearly 10 years.


I don’t have to look down because she’s always been there. Sometimes she curls up next to Kim’s feet, and that’s why I keep her circular dog bed next to my desk.

I’m having a difficult time watching her grow old.

I’m having a difficult time writing this as I imagine our home without her.

As much as I enjoyed her as a puppy, she’s an even better adult dog. I love how she nudges my right hand off my mouse when she wants food. Or when she wiggles her butt and tiny tail when I arrive home from work. Or return from taking out the trash. She’s also developed an uncanny knack for photo-bombing any picture taken on her property.

I love the deep sigh she lets out just as she’s about to doze off or how her stomach always stays warm. I love that.

I’ve noticed how much she’s slowed this past year, yet it didn’t hit me until this morning. 

She knows on Sunday she’s on her own for three hours while we’re at church. I knew she’d be curled up in a ball on our couch upstairs, but decided to call her name from the garage. She hadn’t been outside all morning. But she didn’t run towards me like she normally would if she were being invited to go for ride.

I had to call her a few times before I heard her roll off the couch and slowly make her way down the two flights of stairs to me. Her hind legs have lost their spring, and she no longer darts down the stairs three at a time.

She came around the corner and stopped when she saw me. She knows to go outside and take care of business. Most days she’ll walk right past me and return within a minute or two before heading back up the stairs to her warm spot on the couch.

But today she stopped and looked at me.

She looks as regal as she did five years ago. Her dark brindle coat still shines as do the white patches on her chest and paws. Only the grey around her whiskers gives her age away.

I don’t know how much longer we’ll have her. We understand boxers have a relatively short lifespan. She’s still sweet as can be. Still patient with four noisy and occasionally aggressive children. They love her as much as she loves them. Even when Anna puts underwear over her head.

I’m not certain she was trying to tell me something today. She could have sensed the light falling rain which she despises. Maybe she didn’t need to go outside. But I felt like she was trying to communicate something to me. As if she wanted me to understand that she’s no longer the same dog that slept on Kim’s lap during the drive home from the breeder. Maybe it’s something simple.

That she’s still our dog.

Just older.

23 thoughts on “Watching Our Boxer Grow Old

  1. Ugh, this made me cry. Izzy is only a year so I still hate her a bit. I can imagine the love creeping on every year and being heartbroken like crazy when she needs to be put down. We drove home from the breeder with Izzy on my lap too. Only she didn't sleep. We love her snoring and her sudden yelping when she's had a bad dream.


  2. Izzy does sound a bit wild. But Elka wasn't easy for the first couple of years, but she matured into a great dog. It wasn't till she was about 3 year old that she settled down and obeyed most commands. She still challenges Kim a bit but she's been wonderful with our kids. I hope yours is as good with your kids.


  3. I cried too… I cry every time I think about how little time we have with our pack. Our Westie just turned 5 and even with the most vigilant care he is approaching half life way way too quickly. When I was a freshman in college my poodle started looking at me differently when I came home… I thought she was just mad that I was no longer home… but that summer she left us after 12 epileptic, fun filled years.Thank you for the reminder that time is even more precious in dog years.


  4. Made me cry too. Elka has been on my mind a lot these past few weeks as I have noticed her slowing down and her back legs don't seem to want to move as they should. She can't jump on our bed anymore and after all the years of trying to keep her off, I want her there now. I can't imagine ever having another dog like her. I too have wondered at times lately if she was trying to tell me something. If she knows her time is growing short. I hope she knows how much we love her.


  5. Thanks, Nancy. This has been the first dog I've had more than a few years. We had one when I was young but he ran away after a couple of years so we decided to have cats for pets instead.


  6. Okay, now that was just too sad. We noticed a big change in Elka this summer too. She is such a sweet girl and she does love her Grandma's. I love how she gets so excited when we come to visit and how she comes to me when she wants to sneak up on the couch by me … and I let her. I don't think you could find a better family member than Elka.


  7. Okay, now that was just too sad. We noticed a big change in Elka this summer too. She is such a sweet girl and she does love her Grandma's. I love how she gets so excited when we come to visit and how she comes to me when she wants to sneak up on the couch by me … and I let her. I don't think you could find a better family member than Elka.


  8. I really identified with this post, being the owner of a 9 year old lab retriever. Don't think I haven't been thinking about when the end happens. Because I will cry buckets. Great job and love the photo.


  9. damn man you really know how to pull on the heart-strings don'tcha ,,, I just gave Ruby an extra special pat and wish she would stay young for a very long time even though I know she won't.


  10. I don't think there is a boxer lover out there that doesn't know exactly how you feel. It's lovely to hear someone celebrating an older boxer rather than wishing their lives away so another puppy can come into the family. Huge hugs to Elka, sounds like she has a wonderful life. I have two boxers, Sasha age 6 and Tizzy age 3. I know my time with them is limited and I still remember the love I shared with my first boxer Katie, who I lost 11 years ago. Boxers fill a space in our hearts that was designed just for them and they are irreplaceable from the first day they enter our lives. Kind regards,Karen


  11. Katie was 12 1/2 when we lost her and we had her since she was 4. She was my girl and I loved her to bits. Might sound morbid, but her ashes are on the mantlepiece and I say hello everytime I dust under her! My youngest never knew her, but strangely she still refers to Katie as if she did as Katie is still so much a part of our lives!


  12. Heart string strumming post. :)Reminded me of losing our dog of many years, Gizmo.His death was sudden and unexpected.Months after that and swearing we were done with pets, I couldn't help myself, and we started looking again.Charlie was rescued on Jan 1 of 2008, at about five years old. He's still a quick one at about 7 yrs old. Lots of playful energy when we engage him. He obviously considers himself a part of the family as he insists on sleeping with us and even laying in bed with us when we're watching TV.This post makes me think ahead to when he's gone will I want another. Right now I'd say yes; it's worth the heartache.


  13. Typing through the tears, isn't it amazing how our four-legged children can hold such dear places in our hearts. My Faith kitty will be 14 in March and is having a few issues that make me wonder if I should take her to a vet. But, then, do I really want to know if its something serious? She still purrs; she still cuddles in her spot behind my knees; and she still plays. So wish I could capture on video her meowing with her mouth full with a toy – too funny!We never know how long our loved ones – four-legged or otherwise – will be with us. We can only make the most of the time we have together. What else can we do? Enjoy Elka. Perhaps she was telling you, “Man, you're looking older!” 😉


  14. Reminds me of my Heidi dog when I was a kid, she was a husky/german shephard mix, who had hip and knee problems when she got older. Our family loved that dog. I remember the thump thump of her tail on the floor when I would come home from a boy scout camping trip. One memory I will never forget is the time as a family we had to say good-bye to her.


  15. Thank you for writing this. I’m spooning my 11 year old sweet boxer Samson . He has been my light for many years. I see him slowing down more and more each day, and now he needs help jumping up on the bed. I’m so thankful he has been in my life – and even more thankful he can attempt to teach our new wild husky/boxer puppy the ways of the world. I hate to think about the day I won’t hear him snore anymore….


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