PUPPIES may be cute, but senior citizens such as my beautiful dog Bella are priceless.

The older the better, I say.

You may not be able to teach them new tricks (though that is debatable), but they can teach us so much more.

From loyalty and devotion, to life cycles and the rewards of exercise, dogs are especially educational when it comes to passages of time.

After all, they squeeze seven years into every one of ours.

In the modern world where time flies by faster than we can type, dogs provide a real measure of where we’re at, what’s gone before and what’s to come.

Old dogs with their slowing and knowing ways do this best of all.

And so it’s to Bella, just a month off receiving her coming-of-age letter from the canine queen, I turn to reflect on the year that was, and prepare to move into the 2011 that will be.

She’s the journal my household doesn’t write, the detail not displayed on our 2010 wall planner. She’s the reality in the rapidity, and the ever-devoted presence inevery high and every low in our household.

So just what has happened in the past 365 days?

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