Thursday, April 15, 2010


There are a gazillion articles written about the proper care of the senior dog. Heck, I even wrote one or two of them myself. But have you ever given thought to how you are taking care of yourself as you are aging? How much more difficult it is for some us to get around like we used to. Many of us are finding it harder and harder to take care of a dog the size of a German Shepherd no less a kennel full of them. If you have been afforded good health and are in good shape then you’re probably not feeling too much different than when you were in your twenties?! But what about those that no longer feel like they did when they were twenty years old? This is a strong and demanding breed. Some of their natures are easy to get along with, some are much more challenging.

With the economy being in the sad shape that it is in (although some reports say it’s starting to swing the other way), many people have had to make compromises in the way that they live. No where is this more true than for the senior citizen. Social security is not keeping up with the standard of living and for the elderly; they have had to make some very hard decisions. And sometimes those decisions have centered on their dogs. Who goes? Who stays? Unfortunately, these are the times that we find a lot of our beloved German Shepherd Dogs in shelters. How did this happen? When push comes to shove, the dog may find that he is the one that is shoved out the door. These poor people can barely feed themselves no less their dogs. Many tears have been shed making some life changing decisions but some think they have no other choice.

With age, comes the hard demands put on our bodies. We have aches and pains where we didn’t even know that they existed before. Arthritis sets in and just doing ones daily chores can be an effort no less taking care of large dogs like this breed. No matter how much pain you’re experiencing, if you live with dogs, they still need to be taken care of. Some may force themselves to get out of bed in the morning, shuffling across the room in their slippers, but the demands of dog ownership doesn’t stop because “we don’t feel like it” today! There may come a time that you will be forced to look for other arrangements and find “forever” homes for some or all of your dogs. This is something that you should discuss with your family BEFORE you get too ill to do so. See if someone is willing to take care of your dogs when you are no longer able to do it yourself. If you have the funds, try putting aside some money for the care of your dogs if you have to place them so they are not more of a burden for their new owners.

On the positive side, having a dog can be very beneficial for the senior citizen. Many a time the dog can add years of enjoyment to his owner. If the owner is able to do it, taking the dog for a short walk every day can improve the owners own life because he’s got a good reason now to exercise. It’s good for the owner and it’s good for the dog. Having a dog many times can give the senior a reason to get up out of bed in the morning. It gives him one more reason to live! Having a dog has helped many a lonely older person and has brought joy and happiness to their lives again.

We owe it to ourselves to take good care of the physical and emotional demands our body presents to us. It can ensure that we live longer and can enjoy our family and friends as well as our beloved dogs for many more years to come. Having a dog means we get to go out in the fresh air more by playing and exercising with our canine friends. We're having fun. We laugh more. We're participating in life. Having a dog in your life can add years to it.

It is very important if an older person owns a German Shepherd that that dog is well trained. This is not the home for a dog that is out of control or wild and jumping all over the owner and everything else that he wants to. A dog with good steady nerves and character is the one that is most complimentary to the senior person. In fact this type of dog is good for all age groups!

Feeding, grooming, and veterinarian care is expensive for the average person no less those that are living on a limited income. This is probably some of the most worrisome areas of concern for the older person. Some have lost their homes and incomes and have had to adjust their lifestyles. If they own a dog, the dog’s way of life and what he has become accustomed to has changed as well. If the human has had to sacrifice his lifestyle so will the dog.

Nothing is sadder to see than a dog that has lived his life and who is now a senior himself sacrificed to a shelter. This is no way for a devoted companion animal to end his life. It is unfortunately a sad reality in today’s world. The aging human worrying about how she is going to make it, lets her life long companion go to a place of misery and confusion. Most of the time the aging dog is passed over for adoption for the cute little playful puppy and he finds his life ending on a very sad note indeed! His owner doesn’t mean for their old dog’s life to end this way, but they feel their have no other option! Every effort should be made by the owner to find a suitable, loving home for the old dog to live the remainder of his life in some sort of comfort. Sometimes this may be impossible for the owner to do because they are alone and frightened. They panic and make decisions that may not be in the best interest for their dog. This is not the time for them to be making these kinds of decisions when they're in panic mode! The best thing for them to do if they don’t have family or friends to take the dog is to call an animal rescue and ask them for help. Putting the senior dog in a shelter almost always guarantees their death sentence! They’re too old and very few people want an old dog!

So yes as we age, the process of it can prove very challenging, but add on the responsibility of taking care of a dog or dogs and it can sometimes prove overwhelming for some. Be prepared. Get your house in order and look for provisions for your animals BEFORE they are actually needed. It can prevent a lot of heartache later on……especially for the dog! He’s our responsibility no matter how old we get! We invited him into our lives and just because our old body doesn’t “feel like it” anymore we can’t just discard them like the morning trash! Their old lives are no less worthy than our old lives! The blush of youth may have faded long ago from our faces, but as long as we have the wisdom of our years of living on this earth, we must use that wisdom to protect both ourselves and the dogs that have ensured our safety and provided love when no one else did. For all the years that he has had our backs, he needs us now for more than just scratching his. Betrayal now should never be an option!

My rating: taking care of ones own health: (4), making provisions for our dogs: (4)

From the book: AGING OUTRAGEOUSLY WELL: HOW TO SAVE YOUR OWN LIFE AND HAVE FUN DOING IT....Aging Outrageously Well, How To Save Your Own Life and Have Fun Doing It, is a lively guidebook to healthy, spirited longevity. Filled with inspirational anecdotes, the latest anti-aging study results, and entertaining biographical sketches of fifty real-life senior athletes, this book is unique. Not just another chronicle of health advice, this book will motivate readers to make the most of each day and to follow along in the footsteps of the trailblazers who appear in its pages. A fun read for any age, it will appeal to the seventy-six million baby-boomers who, reaching sixty, are searching for advice and motivation to carry them forward to a healthy longevity.


  1. I have one or two of those GSDs who love to zip around you like Tasmanian devils! Krunch sent me on a trip to the ER one time simply BRUSHING BY me when we were playing.
    I no longer go out to play with the crew when I am home alone.
    With regard to the senior dogs whose owners are facing the loss of their companion....if they are unable to locate a home for their best friend, it is much kinder to let them go to the bridge in your arms where they feel safe, than to surrender them to a shelter where they will sit and wait for the return that will never come. Remember, not all facilities use humane euthanization methods and your pet's last moments may be one of fear. There ARE things worse than crossing over.

  2. where they will sit and wait for the return that will never come........

    What profound words Dawn, but sadly so awfully true! It's sad for all involved, but especially the old dog that does not understand what he did to make him be put in a shelter!