I have an old lurcher and two young greyhounds.
It is so hard when dogs get old, they are no longer as vibrant or bright or as fun as they once were; their health problems increase and it is not so easy looking after them.
His health problems have increased, it while is not hard keeping an eye on these things, what is hard is to remember.
When I arrived home today poor Mutley had got stuck, his back legs are getting weaker and sometimes he just doesn’t have the strength to get off the floor, despite lots of yoga mats and other thick mats left on the floors.
While rushing about and generally looking after him, I have to stop and think. What does he really need above everything? Apart from having nice food and chews and access to water and the odd walk if he wants to? (Walks are his choice now he is a geriatric).
The one most important thing as he gets older, and that I have to remind myself that he needs, is to just stop and be with him. He has always been a dog that loves people, and has never been that fussed with dogs, although he has always loved his girlfriends in the house, he craves human touch.
This then is the one thing that I forget.
Old dogs often get forgotten. I often see people dragging their old dogs on long walks that they don’t want and don’t need because they forget to look.
What would these dogs choose? I bet every dog would answer with the following-just love and a quiet 15 minutes with their owners.
It is not difficult and not much.
Contact with someone they love is all that often crave. Looking after their needs is important-checking their weight and if they are coping is also important but it is the contact which is above all integral.
During these quiet times you can do many things as you are sitting with them.Weight can be checked, you can run your hands over all the muscles and areas of the body and check for lumps, bumps and heat. Sometimes the lumps are just lipomas, my old boy has loads, so many I have long since stopped counting or worrying about them. At nearly 15 there is no way I am going to put him through any operations. You can feel areas that carry heat and general muscle atrophy which will be notify you about what exercise you provide. Increasing exercise is not an option but you can promote gentle movement by using mental stimulation, puzzles and nosework to keep his brain stimulated.
Old dogs don’t often complain unless they are in pain, so look for restlessness, particularly if they settle but can’t get comfortable,and then wander off to another area. Keep beds in all sorts of areas and use lots of different surfaces to carry on providing stimulation for the brain and senses.
But once more-just be with them, and nurture them. It may only be for a few months but it will impact his life like nothing else does