Reprinted with permission from Hindy Pearson, Caring for a Senior Dog. Copyright August 31, 2015.
I have been making a list of all the topics I was planning to write about senior dogs, and was suddenly struck by this incredible sadness. Every single topic was about a health problem – arthritis, cancer, dementia, kidney failure, failing eyesight, and the list went on and on. I started to ask myself if this was what a senior dog’s life boiled down to. Of course it isn’t!
I foster and adopt senior and special needs dogs, so I am always sharing my life with “oldies”- as they used to be called at the shelter I volunteered at.
I guess the first things that came to mind were the illnesses, because I wanted to offer comfort and support to those of you who are facing these health challenges with your own dog, and to let you know you are not alone. I wanted to share my experiences, and even some triumphs!
It’s true all my dogs had health problems to some degree, and there was a lot of back and forth to the vet, medications, and of course, worry. But I never focused on that, and I will not focus on it on my website either. I have always, and will continue to focus on the joy of being able to give a dog a comfortable place to lay his head, at the end of their life.
You know what the joys are for me? I can’t think of many greater feelings than caring for dogs who were cruelly dumped at the end of their lives. It is impossible for me to convey the depth of emotion I experience when I save an older dog’s life, when I go to the shelter and pick up a dog who would have died alone, in a scary and unfamiliar environment.
I love when my dogs sit next to me on the couch as I read a book, or snuggle up with each other – giving and getting comfort when needed.
Just like dogs of every age, my oldies are so happy to see me (those who can!) if I’ve been out for a while, and although they’re left in very comfortable surroundings, you can see how much safer they feel when I’m around.
In addition to all that, I also like lower energy dogs. Of course they all need time outside to sniff and explore, and to walk, at whatever pace is comfortable for them, and that’s perfect for me. I don’t want to have to hike miles every day, in order to satisfy their needs. If I want to take that hike periodically, and would like the company of one of my dogs as I do it, I get out the doggie stroller and off we go together.
So yes, while there may, or may not, be health challenges in your dog’s life, showing kindness and compassion to these wonderful creatures who brought so much joy into our lives, over the years, is what it’s all about.
Hindy Pearson is dedicated to creating as complete a resource as she can, for people who share their lives with seniors. She is a Pet Care Consultant, offering in home consultations to people who are looking for behaviour and training advice. Hindy Pearson runs The Saffy Pearson Resource Centre, a mobile resource offering the same advice as her pet consultancy business, only this service is free when at various locations. Her dream is to open The Saffy Pearson Retirement Home for Abused and Abandoned Animals.