By S.L. Lok
I get that caring for an elderly dog can be stressful, I do. It can be hard work, too. I know that. Emotionally challenging, yes, that too. The once constant reward of sparkly eyes, wagging tails and great big smiles are now memories sprinkled with hope that today we will see more. Regular diets, schedules and outings are no longer routine. Habits, taste buds and behaviors have changed and bodily functions now have unpredictable schedules of their own. The senses are not always on target, yet we follow, knowing that there really may be a rabbit in the garden or that they may just be sensing a memory of the chase. We carry with us an abundance of poop bags because you never know, nor do they. Delayed responses are now the norm, so we hold the door open a little longer and wait as we speak words of encouragement a little louder than before.
Exciting excursions are now most commonly visits to the veterinarian. The excitement comes when the news is all good. The turkey tenderloin reserved for a special meal is now on the pup menu for the next few days. Oh, and we might need to have an egg, over easy, with that. The joy of a long hike in the woods is now seen in the rear view mirror as we drive the distance, any distance, to a safe watering hole with easy access. Long naps and deep sleeps are the new norm, not for you, but for your elderly pup. The physical twitches that once were sure signs of a dream are now a reminder that we must be alert. Resisting the temptation to touch is not necessary. The touch is always welcome. Being out and about and seeing them look around for you when you call their name, serves as our reminder to walk slower and stay closer.
We greet each new day before the sun and watch for the signs that all is okay. We watch with anticipation for the special moments that now seem fewer and further between because they are. The new reward is in the comfort and quiet you provide as needed. The great big smile and sparkly eyes are now yours as your elder pup steals a toy from a young sibling, trots a good twenty feet, swims to the heart’s content and still lets you know when supper should be on the table. It is in those little moments that I hope you agree that the stress is insignificant. The moment is what matters most. It is the reward, a very special gift.
Below are a few links to help with grief and tips to make the discussion a bit easier-