This is the first in a series of articles/posts on ways to care for our aging dogs. A few years ago, after breeding Frenchies for over 25 years, I hit a time of having a house full of grey muzzles. It crept up on me much as my own aging catches me by surprise (my roots are no longer dark, sigh). It was a time of great love and great heartbreak as I said goodbye to dear friends. This series is intended to share what I learned the hard way (as most of my lessons seem to be) and hopefully save you some heartache.
Did you know that almost 50% of dog owners have a dog who is seven years old or older? That number will continue to rise as veterinarian science advances. It will be up to each of us to learn how to care for our geriatric pets. And they are worth every minute of the extra time!
Today I read Maggie, an almost 30-year-old Kelpie dog, had passed away. While her owner had misplaced documentation proving her age, I decided I am gonna believe him.
MAGGIE the Kelpie, touted as possibly the world’s oldest dog and thought to be 30 years old, passed away peacefully last night. Her owner, Woolsthorpe dairy farmer Brian McLaren, confirmed the sad news this morning.
It seems as if from one day to the next your bouncing puppy became a bit grey in the muzzle and started to grunt and groan when arising from a nap. I know I feel that way as I careen toward 60.
Many dogs, just like people, begin to show forgetfulness or a lack awareness of their surroundings as they age. Hmmm, I can remember some Frenchie’s pedigree that was not even my dog from 1993, but can’t remember why I walked across the room. It happens to us all.
We may notice our senior dogs are more easily startled or frightened. They may seem be disoriented for no discernible reason.
You may notice more episodes of forgetfulness or random quirks in their behavior. Human nature is to try and push it away as no big deal or that your dog is just feeling a bit off. Then one day it really sinks in…our once bold, confident king or queen of the dog park is getting old.
Mental decline in an older dog is referred to as canine cognitive dysfunction. There are a lot of studies on this condition, as more of us now go that extra mile to care for aging dogs. Some reports state that over half of our dogs 10 years and older show signs of brain aging, and two-thirds will show signs by 15.
We had a French Bulldog named Joker who, as he got older, would forget where he was going. He would start walking across the living room, then stop and just stand there. Steve or I would touch him gently on his shoulder and call his name. He would shake his head and look around and we could feel him coming back into the moment. Now I know he was beginning to shift from this plane to the next, as if he were peeking into the Other Side for a glimpse of what lay in store.
Pictured above is Joker aka CH. Tea-D's Joker's Wild Jackpot! in his fave tie-dye coat. He was colder at the end and our drafty old house in far northern MN was too chilly for his taste, so he rocked his fleece tie-dye like an aging rock star.
The next articles will share what to watch for as your dog ages, how to accommodate your dog's changing needs, celebrating your dog's life, how to know when it is time, easing their transition, ceremonies or memory moments to acknowledge your dog's importance to your life and moving through grief. Hmmm, that list sounded sad and that is NOT my intention! I promise we will be CELEBRATING life with our old dogs, not weeping over their again. Paw in the Air, I Swear!
Once of the things that arose from my saying goodbye to so many friends over the years was my own need for something to ease the emotional stress I saw my old friends experiencing. Out of that grew our newest aromatherapy offering AGE WELL. Here is the link if you feel so moved to check it out. I will share I am especially honored to offer this product.