Zulu at nearly 13 years old, staked out next to the cabin just before being brought in for the night.
As I sit at my computer sorting through photos from last winter season with, now 13 year old, Zulu laying at my feet, I can't help but reminisce about the times when Zulu was at his working peak.
Zulu was quite the handsome and majestic specimen of a dog; long legs, thick weather resistant coat, keen senses, mild temperament and great intelligence. Zulu had amazing innate abilities as a sled dog and leader. The knowledge he possessed about being out on the trail trickled down to me little by little over the years. He was a true mentor and I often felt humbled by what he would teach me.
Zulu still has the long legs, but he is a little less sure on them as arthritis has set in. He's got the amazing thick weather resistant coat but it's a bit more coarse and brittle than it used to be although he does look quite good for his age. His intelligence hasn't faded. His mind has just shifted from thoughts and analysis about the dog yard and trail to how to get the best spot on the couch in the sun room and which way to lead us on leashed walks through the nearby meadow. He is still so gentle that toddlers and young children are able to tug on his coat, coo over him and pet him as he soaks it all in. Although his hearing is still impeccable, (This dog can hear a cracker drop on the kitchen floor from the other end of the house!) his eyesight is fading. If his crate is moved a couple of inches either way, he could miss is completely. He knows exactly where everything is in the back yard and overcompensates for known obstacles to make certain his not so agile legs are able to successfully clear the object and he doesn't fall on his nose.
In his old age he continues to humble me with his teachings. Please be patient with me. Slow down. What's the hurry? It's been a life with Zulu of never ending lessons. As he continues to age, I am quite certain he has more great things in store for me.