Have you had the bittersweet honor of watching one of your dogs grow old?
It seems as if from one day to the next your bouncing puppy became a bit grey in the muzzle and grunts and groans when arising from a nap.
Special Note: As your dog begins their transition from this life, use AGE WELL as a way of easing this inevitable time for you both.
One gift we can give our dogs is to tell them what an important part of your life they have been.
My husband always tells our dogs it is ok for them to pass on when they are ready, that we will miss them, but we will see them again soon. He says they can pass more peacefully that way, knowing we support them.
When my dog, Money (he is the logo dog and the brindle Frenchie pictured) passed I couldn't tell him it was ok. I was afraid he would know I was lying and to this day I feel guilty I did not help make his passing easier.
Money struggled and fought against death at the end and I know it was because I was so heartbroken. Yes, you probably guessed that I am crying my way through typing this part. Thank you for hanging in there with me. I only share in the hopes it will help any of ya'll with this rough time.
As you dog nears the inevitable here is an exercise that may help bring you and your dog comfort and support.
Sit with your senior dog and pet him/her for a bit (cellphone off, no tv, just quiet). Allow both you and your dog to relax and get settled into the moment. Roll a bit of AGE WELL onto your palms and allow them to sniff it, if they seem interested. Then gently pet your dog, stroking them with your lightly scented hands. Next apply a bit to their groin area or inside their ears. Sit with your dog and enjoy being with them.
This next part is the tough part. Tell your dog how much they have meant to you and how you have enjoyed having them in your life. Assure them that they will be safe, comfortable and loved as they get older.
You may share a few fond memories of some of the fun or meaningful times you have had together. If you feel it is right, assure them that when it is time for them to pass to the waiting place/rainbow bridge/heaven that they will go with love and dignity. (We each have our own version of whatever this is, use yours, of course).
We also tell our dogs we will be with them at some point and they are welcome to watch over us until we are with them. (I'm sharing all of this, use any that helps).
One thing I have done is asked my dogs to let me know when they are ready to go. Some dogs do this by quitting eating and drinking, others will literally lie down and not get back up.
Years ago, Steve and I were talking about Joker, the Frenchie I mentioned earlier, and how old he was and how would we know when he was ready. I swear Joker stood up and walked over to me and put his paws up on my knees and stared me in the face.
A few months later after he had a bad few days, he did that again and I knew.
Personal note: Yes, I know, this is very personal and intense for those of us who have senior dogs. It may be hard to say these things out loud, it is perfectly acceptable to think it or even write your dog a note etc. I do believe the setting of this intention for your dog's aging process makes it a commitment to them and for you. I hope this makes sense.
NOTE: This download link opens a new window to a Google Drive folder you have access to.
My deepest wish is this brings you some bit of comfort during this time. A few years ago I lost five dogs within a three month period. It was the saddest, most debilitating time of my life. Some of what I learned there is shared her, plus some of the other lessons I learned the really hard way.
I promise there are also light-hearted stories and sharing in here!