Good ol’ Mamas did her best to taking aging in stride.

Here’s to taking the pains of aging with grace

They say that animals and their owners can end up looking like each other.

While I could only hope that might have been the case for me, my dog kept her youthful beauty, with an adorable baby face that had people thinking she was a puppy at age 18. Meanwhile, I gaze in fascinating horror at the lines and crevices of my aging face.

She did, however, mirror for me what getting older might look like – with all its inconveniences and vulnerabilities.

Over the hill

Having survived three operations in her youth and an unwarranted attack by a German shepherd that sent her to the emergency vet, my sweet Mamas was like anyone else heading over that hill into old age. She was definitely a survivor.

She acquired all the aches and pains that come with living to 126 dog years – conditions that will affect some of us to various degrees as we age.

I admit to not taking her on as many walks when I saw a change due to arthritis in her paw. That activity, which might have taken five minutes in her youth, now took 20 minutes. All the leash tugging on my part was to no avail.

Here’s to taking the pains of aging with grace
Good ol’ Mamas did her best to taking aging in stride.

It was as if Mamas, now an old lady, was determined to enjoy the little things in life as we all should. More importantly, like many women, she got a little feisty as she aged.

When I would pull impatiently at her leash, she uncharacteristically eyed me down in what looked like defiance. Her eyes seemed to say: “I want to do this, I’m doing it and you’re not going to stop me.”

Many women are conditioned to please others and to put others before them. But as they age, they begin to rebel against old roles that no longer serve them. They find out what their true desires and needs are and learn to please themselves. My beautiful pit-Corgi terrier mix, who was amiable all her life, seemed to let go of some of the chains that bound her and really began to assert herself.

Senior Moments

Like the rest of us, she also developed the dreaded “senior moment.” When she had woken us up from deep slumber in the dead of night to let her out to do her business, my dear girl would ceremoniously stand on the back step that led to the garden with a look of total wonder – forgetting the darn thing she was going to do.

And then there was the incontinence. Mamas needed Depends, like some of us will. In the last years, the incontinence was bad. After a long day at work, I would sometimes find her doe eyed and innocent in a pool of water that was seeping into my prized wooden floors.

Having to clean up after her, I was annoyed by the inconvenience and irritated that my wonderful wooden floors would be ruined forever. I was mindful, though, when my dog would look up at me with her large, sweet button eyes that I too could someday face the same dilemma and need the kindness of perhaps a stranger to not make me feel bad for getting fragile with age.

It was a great awareness that as we age, we will be vulnerable. We will be needy, and we will be dependent.

A frighteningly sobering thought, but like my darling dog, I hope we will handle those situations with some degree of grace and bravery and leave a legacy like the one Mamas left me – a legacy of love.

Maggie Lennon is a writer and photographer who writes about navigating the aging process. Check out her blog, “The Sensational Sixties. An everywoman’s guide to getting older.” Contact her at