Oh, the joys and frustrations of living with a senior dog….Nine and a half year old Shepherd/Lab mix, Ozzy, doesn’t usually say much, unless another dog or (heaven forbid) a cat should happen to trot past the front of the house. But if he could talk, I think these Ozz-isms would be pretty close to what my old guy is thinking:
10 Old Dog-isms:
- Bedtime is at 8:30pm strict. Unless you’re watching a reality singing competition on TV, then it’s definitely earlier, in the spare bedroom, and with my head under the bed.
- They say that most dogs sleep about 17 hours on average per day… but I’m an overachiever.
- Unless you’re planning on feeding me sometime soon or scratching my butt for a while, I reserve a 20-second time limit on standing.
- I’m not slow to respond, I just build in a 6-second delay to give you time to switch to the better biscuit.
- I still enjoy my walk in the morning, but would you mind if I take an hour or two hour break in between laps around the neighborhood?
- Sure, I’ll play fetch. You throw the ball, then you then go get it. I’ll direct with my eyes.
- If it’s not at least 5 inches thick and filled with comfy, squishy foam or padding, it’s not worth my time… But you’re welcome to sleep there, if you want.
- I’ll happily still get a beer out of the fridge for you. But does Mr. Busch know that his light beer isn’t feeling any lighter to me?
- I used to rip down the mini-blinds to see out the window, now I’m begging for some nice, thick roman shades to block the sunlight.
- Mmmm, bacon breakfast… It’s the only thing worth getting up for on the weekend. (For the record, I agree.)
Seriously, I see day by day that Ozzy is slowing down, and it breaks my heart. We are no longer able to go for our hour-long morning walks, but instead have to cut them in half or break them up throughout the day. Play sessions are much shorter, and we focus more on training stationary tricks, food puzzles and nosework to occupy the time instead of a game of fetch. Contrary to what you may have heard, you can absolutely teach an old dog new tricks, and it’s a blast still to watch Ozzy learn and process new information.
However, if you have a senior dog, like I do, be vigilant about observing his or her behavior. Do they seem especially grumpy or slow? Are you feeling any abnormal lumps and bumps on your dog? Do the normally fun activities seem more like a chore to your dog now? If so, it might be worth a visit to the vet to identify, or at least rule out, any potential health issues that might be affecting your dog’s attitude, behavior and movement. My vet says Ozzy’s very healthy, but could be dealing with arthritis or potentially a nerve damage issue that is slowing him down. Only time, continued observation and some future x-rays for an arthritic condition will tell.
So as sad as it might be to watch your senior dog grow older, it’s important to take the time to reminisce about all “great” memories that you had with your once-younger dog… Remember filling dig holes in the yard, replacing chewed furniture and mending claw-torn clothing?
But then again, experts say that dogs “live in the moment,” where only the present-time matters to them. So, in true dog fashion, shouldn’t we, too, stop to relish in these quiet, lazy and carefree days of our senior pups’ lives, and cherish every single moment as it happens in time? And is it maybe okay to forego “making a dog work for his treat” – a notion often reserved for a more rambunctious time in a dog’s life – and pop a few freebie treats for no other reason than just looking cute?… For me, I’m counting on it.