Elderly Dog, Your Beloved Older One

November 21, 2010

Older dogs are very special.  Today I smiled at watching my own 16 1/2-year-old Woofe foxy up and sprint down the hall.  It was a good morning for him.   More frequently,  I massage his joints before picking him up from his bed and carefully squaring him onto his feet before encouraging him to go outside for his potty duty.  Too often now I cringe at watching his weakened legs almost crumble under him.  I know his legs would crumble if it were not for his daily Glucosamine.    His sweet eyes have a glaze over them but he still sees me as he moves about in his 90% deafened world.  I hold and pat him a lot more now because I feel those are the most meaningful things I can do for showing him my devoted and grateful love.  Woofe is a Coton de Tular and kind of a rare breed.  There were only four in the Seattle area when I got him years ago.  He is the most loyal, faithful and darling little fur child ever. 

I know when other trainers hear me calling my two dogs  “fur children”, I’ll be corrected by many.  Yes, I know they are dogs and we should not be thinking of them nor treating them as humans.  But I don’t care.  I love my fur children dearly.  Although we love them, we need to discuss how we allow our beloved dogs to finish their lives in a painless and respectful way that is fair to them and not necessarily fair to us.  The well being of the dog comes first.  Our own mental well being is second.

I recall two years ago when Twill, a 15-year-old mixed breed dog came to board with me.   It was sad.  Twill literally could not lift himself to go outside to do his potty business.  He would try to lift and fall to the ground.  Again and again he tried, over and over.   The dog had arthritis and the elderly years combined with the pain could be seen in every movement.  It is unfair for us to allow an elderly dog to live in pain and misery.  It is selfish on our part.   There is a proper time to say goodbye.   The biggest thing is to seriously take a look at the dog and see the situation for what it is since no dog can explain pain to you.  Dogs are masters at hiding pain.  There are no tears.  They seemingly cannot cry.  All they can do is look at you.   It’s your job to understand; beyond love, it’s your duty to understand and do the right thing.

I remember my 17-year-old, orange cat, Skeeter DooLittle.  I always wanted to clone my purr cat and give everyone a copy of this most wonderful rescue kitty.  But, I would never allow kittens since there are too many in rescue.   Anyway, this fluffy Skeeter went to the vet nine times in two weeks as we tried to repair his old, ailing body, but nothing worked.   Finally one morning when his bed and the cat were covered in his kitty poo, we knew his time had come.  I could feel his eyes asking me to end his pain.  I forced myself to take my baby to the vet and say goodbye.  His time had come and he had a wonderful life.

Life is a process.  It’s birth, life and death and there is no way around it.  Literally everything has a beginning, a middle and an end.   Long ago when my alley cat named Baby died, I didn’t get another animal for seven years.  Now I know better.  When my Woofe reached age 11, I brought home a new puppy.  I thought Woofe would dislike the pup, but he totally loved Maddie, my Westie.   I have learned that as one dog ages, I will always get a new, young dog.   That way I will never be without a fur child, my dog.

Today, my Woofe dog is doing well. I keep his weight down so he isn’t carrying any fat on those weak legs. Extra weight and having a fat dog can decrease your dog’s life by as much as two years.  Woofe continues to get fish oil, Sojo, healthy veggies including pumpkin plus vitamins every day. Yes, he’s healthy today, but old and I don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  My husband, Gary, is always looking to see if he is breathing.  Next year Woofe will be seventeen years old.  I guess each day is a gift, but I don’t worry about it.  He is here today and has had a great life.   Well, this is how I’m dealing with my beloved, aging dog.  I hope there is some small part of this article that will help you.   If you have some tips, please send them to me.

The above pictures are my Woofe.                                       Thanks, Dona

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