One of my favorite things about the vet clinic is that people send me photos of their animals at home. One particular favorite, however, is Atticus. Atticus ostensibly belongs to a family, but his heart belongs to his children. Today his little girl did this to him:

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday Atticus!

I hope he got an extra-big slice of birthday cake for posing, especially since he’s also been known to put up with these types of situations:

It is not possible to not love this dog. It’s just not. He watches over his kids, has lost all sense of personal space, and is quite possibly the best–and certainly most affordable–childcare around.

Not long ago, I put a link up to a Smithsonian photo essay on older animals on the clinic’s Facebook page, and I was a little surprised by how many people were drawn to it. Puppies are an easy draw for the Facebook page, but for me, I love the elderly. Youth has too much ebullience, too much good fortune, yet no appreciation for all that is good in their lives. I prefer the grey muzzles, the raw bones, and the soulful, mournful eyes. The eyes get me every time. Apparently I am not alone judging by how many people loved that particular essay. Atticus is the embodiment of that look, but he is so deeply in love with his children that he never looks in the mirror, not even to bark at himself. He is the personification of being a good dog, an old dog, and a happy dog.