At the equivalent of 98 human years, Echo is starting to slow down. He walks a little more stiffly, taking time to pause and sniff at any interesting bush or lamp post.
He doesn't much like his new medication, and lets me know that I'm not fooling him when I try to hide the crushed pill in his canned-food meatballs. He dissects the meatball as if he were excavating an archaeological site. Then he either eats it reluctantly or walks away in disgust.
When he does take the pain pill, he can walk more smoothly and handle the steps to the terrace.
When he refuses it, I have to lift him over the steps. It's excellent exercise for me. Who needs barbells when you've got a 25-pound weight to lift?
Sometimes he looks at the steps, tentatively places one paw on the top one, and thinks about whether he wants to come in.
Other times--when he's taken the pill--he bounds down the steps as if it's no big deal.
But age is just a number when you're feeling good. And there are still many good days.
I cherish every day I get to spend with you, Echo, my furry, faithful friend! I love you.