I loved the title of this book (that’s why I’m using it for the title of this article) and the faces that stared back at me when I looked at the review about this book. Aren’t the faces of old dogs not the dearest, cutest soul searching faces that you ever did see?! Oh the wisdom that they house in that little brain of theirs you could never learn in any university! It is all about the puppy dog tail chasing antics; it’s about the falling over them as they come to greet you. It’s the water drooling, mushy lip smacking kisses that they plant on you when you lest expect it. It’s the eyes that meet yours from across the room that always seems to follow you. It’s about the tripping over their toys, or sliding across the floor from the puddle that they left just for you. It’s about the bed hogging, pillow stealing, hair shedding reminders that they were with you. They never let you forget about them. They make sure that you don’t!
So a good friend of mine and I were talking the other night. Our conversation turned to the most important dog in her life that she had lost over the winter due to old age and declining health. We had already cried together when she lost him and here we were the two of us sharing another cry all over again. She shared with me his last weeks and days. She explained to him on the ride in the car what was going to take place when the vet came out to the car. It was like she was apologizing to him. She needn’t to have worried. He knew. There was no forgiving that was necessary. His body may have been giving out on him but his devotion and love for his masters were with him until he breathed his last breath.
I’ve already written an article about the care of the senior dog. This is about enjoying your time with the senior that shares your home. He may be somewhat slower in his movements, but his need to be with you is probably even more pronounced now. It’s almost as if he is afraid of losing you when all the time we thought it was about us losing them! His aches and pains may force him to whine and groan more than when he was a youngster, but make no mistake, he’s talking to us and letting us know it’s alright…..he’s still got our back.
The senior dogs love to still remain part of the pack. They love to run and play with the younger dogs even if they can’t always keep up with them. They want them to know that there is still some fun in their old bones yet. It’s not unusual to see the “oldster” hobbling along trying in vain to keep up with his younger house mates. Don’t worry, if he is in pain, he’ll take a rest and let the others get along without him for the moment. When he’s taken a breath or two, he’ll rise up again for the occasion. He knows what he’s capable of doing. When he’s had enough of the juvenile, rowdy, “no consideration for him” younger dogs, he’ll let them know it with a strategic bite administered to the inconsiderate offender. Just because he’s older now doesn’t mean he doesn’t have any life left in those arthritic bones.
Some older dogs will require less food as they age. Others like my friend’s dog that I mentioned above was still stealing food off of the kitchen counters almost up to the end of his life. He was doing it all his life and old age wasn’t going to take all of his pleasure away! Let him continue to do the things that he always has done as long as he can still do it.
Old dogs still like to go for car rides. They still like to go for walks or hike up the side of a hill with you. They still get excited when you go get their leash in anticipation of the time he’s going to go someplace with you. Some people stop doing the things that they have always done with their dog because they feel that he’s too old now. Unless he has a medical condition that stops him from doing things, don’t take away his joy in doing the things that he’s always loved to do with you. He shouldn’t be excluded from having fun because he’s an old boy now. Never push him aside and make him feel like he’s not a part of the family anymore. They want to do everything that they’ve always done, even if they do it a little bit slower now! Old boys like to have fun too! His body might not cooperate, but he’s still a puppy in his heart!
The old dog is the dog that is so in tune to his owners every move. He knows things that you’re going to do before you even do it. He lies comfortably by your feet, ever the devoted companion that he always was. Sometimes it’s too hard for him to climb up on the bed or sofa. He may just attempt to put his front feet up and turn to you to lift the rest of his body up on those places that give him comfort. So although he may be slower, his desire is still the same.
He may rest more now than he did when he was younger. Making the older dog comfortable can be one of the most important things you do for him now. Sometimes he just needs a place to hang his head and get away from the excitement that surrounds him. Providing him with a soft warm bed is very comforting for the senior dog. Talking to your veterinarian about medications to relieve some of his pain is a very good idea. He’ll appreciate you for it. Treat him gently. Treat him kindly. His old bones require that we do.
If he is all of a sudden leaving little puddles on the floor, then get him some doggie diapers. Try to accommodate the senior dog’s disabilities the best way that you can. He shouldn’t be shunned because he’s not his younger self anymore. Locking him away from his family is like locking up his heart! Don’t punish him for being too old. He may have lost part of his dignity because of his advanced age, but he never losses his love and devotion and his need to be with you.
If you are living with a senior dog, you are living with a dog that probably understands your better than any human being could ever do. He’s seen you at your best. He’s seen you at your worst. He’s been with you through the good times and he’s been with you through the worst of times. He’s seen you when you’re healthy. He’s seen you when you’ve been sick. He’s helped you raise the children of your family and even some of the grand kids as well. He’s seen you when you wondered how you would find the money to pay your mortgage. He’s seen you when you’ve lost your temper one too many times. He’s seen you steal another piece of chocolate cake late at night when everyone else is in bed even though you just started your diet that day. You wink at him…..you know your secret is safe!
This is the dog that is in every fiber of your existence. He’s deep in the crevices of your soul. He has a permanent resting place next to your heart. He is the old dog that grew old right along with you. He may say goodbye first, but like the sentry that he is, he’s never that far away. He’s just gone on up ahead to make sure its safe for you…..he always has your back! He is after all a German Shepherd Dog to the end! I think God teases us by giving the dog to us for such a short period of time as if to entice us to be good in order that we will be reunited with them once again!
Just think, where would you be today without your old dog, your old secret sharing friend, your old companion…..your everything?! After all he helped to teach us to be patient, to be kind, to be disciplined. Don’t we need these traits to live with a dog? Oh yeah, and didn’t he teach us what it is to love unconditionally…….well didn’t he? And all this time you thought you were here to take care of the dog when it was really the dog that was sent to take care of you! Guardian angels come in surprising packages some times!
“Come grow old with me my friend, for the best is yet to be!”
My rating: old dogs: (4)
From the wonderful book: "OLD DOGS ARE THE BEST DOGS"...Anyone who has ever loved an old dog will love Old Dogs. In this collection of profiles and photographs, Weingarten and Williamson document the unique appeal of man's best friend in his or her last, and best, years. This book is a tribute to every dog who has made it to that time of life when the hearing and eyesight begin to go, when the step becomes uncertain, but when other, richer traits ripen and coalesce. It is when a dog attains a special sort of dignity and a charm all his own. If you've known a favorite old dog, you'll find him or her on these pages. Your dog might go by a different name and have a different shape, but you'll recognize him or her by the look in an eye or the contours of a life story. There is the dog who thinks he is a house cat; the herder, the fetcher, the punk and the peacock, the escape artist, the demolition artist, the patrician, the lovable lout, the amiable dope, the laughable clown, the schemer, the singer, the daredevil, the diplomat, the politician, the gourmand, and the thief. Plus, as a special bonus, you will find the first Latvian elkhounds ever photographed. Old Dogs is a glorious gift book and a fitting tribute to that one dog you can't ever forget.