Abraham Lincoln once said, “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” This is a story of a lucky dog who has had both—a long life, well-lived.
Sixteen years ago, a small mixed-breed dog and her sibling were brought to GHS and put up for adoption. Little is known about their beginnings or the path that brought them to the humane society. Although the two young dogs were litter mates, they couldn’t have looked more different—one was black and the other gold-colored. GHS staff named them “Pepsi” and “7-Up”, respectively. Pepsi, the darker-colored dog, was highly energetic but timid. Both were allegedly a lab and collie mix.
About the same time, in January of 1998, Pauline and Bob decided it would be a good idea to get another dog. Already the proud owners of 10-year old Jake, a Chihuahua-terrier mix, the time seemed right to add another canine to their family. So Pauline went looking at GHS and Pepsi caught her eye. 7-Up was adopted by another family.
Bob and Pauline are very active and she wanted to see how Pepsi did outside, so took her to the airport dike trail for a walk on a cold winter day. Pauline was surprised at the dog’s energy level--the entire walk, Pepsi enthusiastically zoomed back and forth to the end of the leash and around her legs. And once back in the parking lot, she was amazed when Pepsi seemed to recognize her car right away. She also noted that the dog seemed to be happy to be back at GHS—likely because it was familiar to her.
Pauline told Bob she thought Pepsi was “the one.” And a week later, after the dog was spayed, they took her on another walk with Jake. The two got along just fine, and so they brought her home.
The first thing to change was her temporary name. Pauline’s son suggested the name, Nola, and it stuck. Once she was home, Bob and Pauline became more aware of Nola’s timidity. On walks, she would often stop and stare at things. She seemed startled, both by inanimate objects such as trees and statues, as well as by noisy moving objects such as rollerblades and skateboards. They would never know for certain, but suspected something had happened to her when she was a pup that precipitated this lifelong personality trait.
Bob is a renowned naturalist and both he and Pauline love observing nature. Over time, their high-energy dog who loved to hike, also learned to stop and hike at their pace, which always includes time to observe the natural world. When asked about Nola’s endearing characteristics, Bob reported they are “numerous.” Nola doesn’t bark, doesn’t chase things, and even when off-leash, she stays close by. As she approached middle age, Nola also became very tolerant of wildlife. Bob reports that one time on the trail, a sooty grouse came right up to Nola and she just sat and watched it.
Pauline adds that, over time, Nola has become more affectionate. Never the type of dog who wanted to cuddle, she does want to be physically close to both of them. Sometimes now, after a hike, Nola will position herself close enough to Bob in the car so he can easily pet her. And Nola is very imprinted on Bob and quietly watches his every move. They also have a nightly ritual that they both enjoy. Nola retrieves a bone with pockets in it for food snacks. Bob fills it and hides it, and then it is Nola’s job to find the bone. She is almost always successful.
When asked about her longevity, both Pauline and Bob think regular exercise and keeping Nola at a good weight have helped. At one point, a friend told them that Nola was getting “too fat,” so they put her on a diet and have kept her at a healthy weight ever since. She is in excellent shape and even at her senior age, last summer she was able to hike upMt.Roberts trail many times. Nola has had her share of health challenges, including back surgery, some tumors, and Cushing’s disease, which has caused some hair loss. But, in spite of these challenges, she carries on thanks to Pauline and Bob’s loving care.
These days, Nola is an active senior who doesn’t look or act her age. She is aware and watchful, and is a very pleasant companion. If you spot a spry older dog on the trail, often sporting a bright blue jacket, you may be lucky enough to meet this very special dog!
Pauline Strong and Bob Armstrong are long-time supporters and members of GHS. Pauline’s son, Dan, has also served on the GHS board.