posted on Jan, 16 2011 @ 01:03 PM
Caring for an Aging Dog
My wire fox terrier recently had her 13th birthday. We've been through a lot together; wonderful times, and difficult times. She has always
helped me in countless ways, and I love her dearly.
When I bought her, I had a male wire fox, and I wanted his puppies, so I actually had that in mind when I got her. They were adorable together, and
loved one another instantly. She was six weeks old when I brought her home, and he was five years old.
Six months after I brought her home, he had to have emergency surgery (swallowed one of those metal tags off a rose bush) and it set up an infection.
He died from complications from the anesthesia, while having this hateful object removed. Soon after, she had an issue with “girl stuff”, and
had to have an emergency hysterectomy, so puppies were out of the question.
She's so dear to me, and I can tell you I've learned many things about dogs in my life because I've had many, but she, “Scout”, has a sense of
humor you would have to see to believe. Once she makes you laugh, she will repeat the funny behavior over and over.
The other day, for example, she sneezed, and I “fake-sneezed” back at her. She sneezed again, and I started laughing, and again I sneezed. The
more I laughed, the more she “fake sneezed”. It was hilarious. We also fake-yawn, and you wouldn't believe how loud and long she can carry this
as long as people are laughing. (She puts on a show in the waiting room at the vet's.....everybody cracks up at her with her dramatic
The aging process seems to be coming on fast now. The last few months, I've really noticed it.
Her eyes have the “blue glaze” older dogs sometimes get, and although I read somewhere it's just cloudiness that doesn't effect her vision, my
vet said it is probably macular degeneration. I can tell, however, that her vision is effected, but she's not blind. Her hearing is also poor,
now. I have to talk louder to her, and she doesn't wake up when I walk past her as she always had. (At least she's not terrified of thunder
anymore, so that's a plus, lol. She's never seemed to understand why I don't “get” that thunder means death is imminent.)
I know she realizes she's in a fragile state, because she is glued to me when I'm home. I suspect she stays under my bed when I'm gone. She
doesn't want me out of her sight. She's always wanted to know where I am, as I do her, but now it's not just a matter of being in the same room.
It's being in physical contact with me. She is under my desk now, with her face resting on my foot. Typically at this time, I would be here at the
computer, with her in the same room but she's always watching television. I turn it on and “mute” it, but then she barks at me until I turn the
sound on for her. But she's not watching television now, or only for a little while, if it has a dog. (Which she barks at with great vigor).
Anyway, I think the physical contact makes her feel more secure.
Her teeth and mouth are in good shape, and there is no incontinence. She still goes to the door when she needs to go out. Her appetite is
diminished, and her stomach is sensitive. She still loves her little treats so much, but I have really had to cut back on them to just bland ole bog
biscuits. I bought some “gourmet” biscuits at the pet store, for dogs with sensitive stomachs, and she threw them up instantly. They were made
with oatmeal. Sigh. I hate that for her. Her favorite thing is peanut-butter toast, which she usually has on the weekends, but I'm thinking of
letting her have it everyday? And she is losing weight. I worry that she might have some type cancer, but I'm not going to have her tested. I
don't think I will. I can't put her through a bunch of tests and treatments, and plus, she's not allowed to spend the night away from home as per
orders from her dog-mom. (me) It disorients her. Mama can't have that.
Her back legs are weak. I don't think it's arthritis, because she doesn't seem to be in pain. My back yard is tiered, and she seems to choose a
path now, instead of the steps. Especially when coming up. I keep some remedyl on hand, in the event she does have pain, but mostly it's just
weakness, I think.
But what's prompted this thread, is she is my little "whale". You know how their fins are always up, unless they are in captivity, or something is
wrong. Scout always carries her tail up, unless she is sick, or there is thunder outside. Now, her tail is in the down position, and it has been for
several days. After I have been “loving” on her, it will come up, but only for a few minutes, then, right back down.
She sleeps much of the time, but still likes to go outside a couple of times a day and engage in her favorite pastime.....barking. Which I let her
do, I don't care what the neighbors think as long as it is after 7am and not after 10pm. I just let her go for it.
I know what I am facing, and this is the first time I've had a dog live this long. The life expectancy for this breed is 14 years, and I would like
to exceed that, as long as she is not in pain, and hope she at least has another year.
I've heard things really get tough when they lose teeth, and become incontinent, but we aren't there yet.
I'm looking for tips and advice in making my dog happy and comfortable at her life's end. Are there those of you who have cared for an elderly
dog? What can I expect in the coming months?
Suggestions are welcomed.