I am an old dog. I still look handsome. I am a little grayer perhaps, but in a Sean Connery/Harrison Ford sort of way. Still, this is not the movies and my days of battling the bad guys are over.
What I need now is a slower, less tumultuous life. That is probably what your older dog needs too. But he doesn’t know how to ask for it, so I am here to help.
Every old dog's favorite activity.
Napping with my human close by.
Give your old dog time to get moving, especially in the mornings or when you get home in the evening. After a long sleep, I am groggy (dogs don’t do coffee like you). My muscles are tight and cold.
Take a few minutes before you clip on my lead for a walk. Help me get moving by massaging my leg muscles or do stretches with me. You should stretch before a walk too, you know.
Give these old joints time to get moving. If you don’t understand this tightness, it’s okay. One day you will. You don’t want to look back on this time with regret.
My sense of smell is really good. I can smell that pot pie you are baking and will wake up to investigate.
But if I am sleeping the next room, no way will I hear you call me. If you come to get me, stomp your feet a bit. I will feel the floor vibrate so I will know you are coming. If you startle me awake, I might growl or snap. Don’t be angry. I didn’t know it was you.
My vision isn’t so good either. To be honest, I can’t see a thing up close anymore. I can see some movement in the distance. But mostly I rely on my sense of smell.
My human has no sense of smell at all. I tell her I smell a cat and she insists there isn’t one. Then it darts out of the shrubs and my human says, “Oh you were right.” Of course I was.
She needs to rely on my sense of smell, just like I rely on her vision and hearing. I don’t see or hear danger coming anymore. I count on her to take care of me. I know I should avoid cars, but since I don’t hear or see them coming, she watches out for them and makes sure I am safely out of their way.
Don’t expect your old dog to jump up or run as quickly as he did when he was a pup. Trust me, your old dog still loves you, but it takes longer for him to run to you.
He might not be able to wait as between potty breaks.
Your walks together should be slower. And shorter.
Your old dog might need different food. I can’t each crunchy foods very good anymore. I blame the dentist.
Don’t ask your old dog to do tricks. Don’t ask me to roll over or sit up on my hind legs I will try to do it because you are my human and I love you - but really, it hurts.
I have achy bones and joints. Don’t let anyone pat me hard or push me. It hurts for my old bones to be jarred.
I am patient with children, but it hurts if they fall on me. Protect us.
Remember that your old dog will try to please you even when it hurts. If my human wants to walk, I will walk with her even if I hurt. Pay attention!
It has taken my human a while to figure out how to tell when I need a rest. I am working dog. I do not ask to take breaks. I work (walk) until the job (walk) is done. That’s what herding dogs do.
I won’t ask, so she has to watch my body language. Some dogs have big fluffy tails and it is easy for their human to see when the tail starts to droop with fatigue. My little nub tail is not so expressive.
She has to watch for things like is my back hunched, do my hips look like they are moving freely - tough things to spot. But I do give her some bigger clues. If I half-squat to pee (undignified but I am an old man) she knows I am hurting. If I lift my leg, it is a good day and we can go a little further.
Pay attention to your dog. Body language is all we have to show you how we feel. We trust you to figure it out.
I can’t play as much or walk as far with you, but I still need time with you.
Take that time when you can. I know you have that job thing. My human has explained it to me and it has something to do with keeping treats in the house.
But spend time with your old dog when you can. Don’t just pat me on the head and then rush off to the next most important thing. I am not sure what is more important than an old dog in need of a little attention, but maybe you know better.
When the time comes for us to say goodbye, don’t cling to me. I will try to stay for you and I really need to go. No life is forever, nor should it be.
I am grateful to you for being my human. I am grateful for your kindness.
Now do me this one last kindness and let me go.
More Adventures with Huff
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