The Senior Years
Written by: Kelly Trella
When I first adopted Briggs as a puppy I knew I was in for a busy year making sure that he was crate trained, house trained, knew all his basic commands and didn’t want to chew my house apart. We had a good first year, he was a smart puppy, learned things quickly – however, I do have a dining table with several chew marks in it that will forever remind me of his first puppy year. Once we got through that year I thought everything would be smooth sailing from then on. Now, 14 years later I am faced with the “senior years” challenges that I never put much thought into before. However, at his advanced age it is me that is having to adapt to his new routine as he is no longer able to do the same things that he once could.
He is deaf! The commands, that we worked so hard on and perfected, he can no longer hear. Thankfully I do have a few hand signals that he can still recognize. However, hand signals do not work when Briggs goes outside for his midnight pee break and then gets distracted by all the smells of late night wildlife and won’t come back in the house. Several times I’ve been outside in jammies with a flash light in hand trying to find him.
He is cranky! As a puppy Briggs was so playful and energetic that I worried about him hurting another dog or child that I kept him on a short leash. Now, although his tail still wags at the sight of another dog, he prefers they stay at distance. And the short leash that he kept on is now used to prevent any attack from the new playful puppies.
He is a picky eater! I am constantly worried about him eating enough. He will go on hunger strikes and will hold out until I mix canned food into his kibble and then he is happy to eat. I think he trained me well and knows that I will give in.
He has lots of lumps! I am constantly worried about them all, and there seems to be new ones every day. Are they growing? Are they bleeding? Is he licking them? Are they cancer?
He has arthritis! He has to be lifted into the truck. Thankfully he’s only about 45 pounds and manageable. This would be much more challenging with a bigger dog.
He can’t go for long walks! I have lost my walking partner! Probably the hardest thing for me to accept. Although his heart and his mind say that he can still walk 5K with me his old body says otherwise. He is lucky to make it around 1 block and even that usually results in me breaking out his pain medication.
He breaks my heart! As I watch him go through all of these senior changes I am reminded almost daily that he is aging and our time together is getting shorter and shorter. So I deal with his little quirky behaviours and midnight pee breaks because I love the old guy and he deserves to the live out his senior years with the family who loves him as much as when he was a puppy….even when he chewed my table!