Tag Archives: senior dogs

Old Dog Winter

What initially was proving to be a mild winter, has taken a turn for the worse. I think it has snowed almost every day in February? And when I say snow, I mean winter storm snow. And while the current 3 day long storm was deemed “Winter Storm Nadia” I’m still over it and want it to go away.

winter storm

Best of luck to those of you who Nadia messes with

Last winter we had almost no snow, and while this is an anomaly in Idaho, I can’t say I minded. Especially since I am reminded this winter how much work snow blowing and shoveling are.

IMG_0786

I had to “find” my mailbox and dig through the snow to get to it

And while I could spend this post bitching about winter in Idaho, how fun is that? Instead I wanted to give some thoughts on having an old dog in the winter and prepare people for what may be to come when their pets become seniors.

The short story is that Stella is struggling with winter now that we have all this snow. And While I usually shovel paths for the dogs in my yard, I’ve decreased them significantly now that the snow has gotten over 4′ in my yard and there’s really nowhere to put the snow. How does this impact my old dog? Well, it reduces the area she has to potty, but what’s worse is that it changes up her routine.

IMG_0788

Once our back road gets plowed we get out for a potty walk

Stella is basically blind. She has limited daylight vision and really cannot see at all in the dark. Now, imagine having that limited of vision, and your entire world becomes a white blob. And that white blob changes from day to day, meaning you sometimes walk into snow piles because yesterday they were still a path you could walk on.

Because she is stubborn and strong willed, she is figuring it out. She refuses to actually poop in my yard, which means that no matter the weather, we’re going for a walk down the road. She’ll try to get off the road, into the snowbank, as she’s discreet about using the bathroom, but often times the snow is way too deep for this. So, I encourage her not to go into the deep snow, but Stella hasn’t listened to me for 15 years. Why would she start now.

IMG_0737

Stella 4 years ago tearing up the skate ski trails

I’ve basically started keeping her on leash all the time. I can kind of control where she goes and keep her from getting too far into a snowbank.

In addition to snow, we’ve also had some very cold weather. And while Stella has some great winter coats to keep her warm, she hates putting them on. Again, this dog has opinions, and putting her head through a hole and having a coat put on, elicits a grunt EVERY time. And while she seems a bit more stiff and sore, she still trot hops around when the snow is cleared from her path for her.

IMG_0777

Siri hasn’t even noticed it has snowed and spends her days romping with friends

I’m super hopeful that Stella gets to enjoy nice weather again. Seeing her struggle with the current conditions makes me realize just how hard winter is for senior dogs. If nothing else, even though she dislikes it, she looks super cute in her coat.

IMG_0337

Advertisements
Tagged , , ,

Fraggle Friday: Hearing the Words

About two weeks ago my family came to visit me from New York. I love when they come to visit. Being thousands of miles away from each other, the time we do get to spend together is really special.

Plus, my Dad is an animal lover like me. He taught me about horses and horse care, and in return I have taught him about the love of a bearded dog. He now has three of them. All rescues I “procured” for him, lol.

Image may contain: dog

Sassy- the first of his bearded dogs

My Dad and I have always been on the same page about our pets. They’re family and we love them even if they aren’t perfect. So, when Stella herniated a disc in her back, he was who I called. I remember sitting in the emergency vet’s office, crying, and talking to him on the phone. Explaining how scared I was for her to have surgery. How expensive it would be, and what if it was all for nothing? What if she couldn’t walk again?
And, instead of supporting me, and telling me it would be ok, my Dad asked “Do you think it’s time to let her go?”

And I think I stopped breathing for a moment. There were people who didn’t agree with having Stella go through surgery. But I never expected one of them to be my Dad. He went on the tell me that, essentially, he thought I was not thinking clearly, and that I should not do surgery. He wasn’t mean or cruel about it, he just felt 14 years was a good long life. And now it was time to say goodbye.

Image may contain: dog and outdoor

I’ll never be ready to say goodbye to this face, but really wasn’t ready to last April

I obviously disagreed. And went forward with surgery. But, a little part of me worried he was right. That if Stella couldn’t walk again, I had made a horrible mistake and should have listened to my Dad. I’m a Daddy’s girl, and it felt like this was the first time I was defying him. It was an uncomfortable and unfamiliar feeling.

No photo description available.

I still get slightly nauseous thinking about the days post surgery where she couldn’t walk yet and the future was so uncertain

As Stella recovered I would send updates, but we didn’t speak about her much. When I cancelled a trip home so I could be with her, he was completely understanding. But I couldn’t help think he was rolling his eyes when he sent an email saying “Of course- I understand.”

So, when my family arrived at the local airport earlier this month, Stella and I walked into Arrivals to greet them. She was a hit as people waited for their bags. Many asking how old she was, but most just commenting on how cute she looked in her coat. We walked out and to my car, Stella hung out in the backseat while we had lunch, and then we all went for a short walk before I headed back to work and they went to the hotel.

The next day, we went to the barn and Stella bombed around so excited to show us the way to June’s pen. She sniffed around while we put June’s blanket on and then we all headed back to the car. As we were walking together, Stella in front of us, my Dad said, “I was wrong. You made the right decision. She definitely wasn’t ready to go.”

Image may contain: dog, grass, outdoor and nature

Not ready. Much trot hopping yet to do

For maybe the second time in my life, I was speechless. Hearing those words meant more to me than I could have imagined. Hearing him say them, not because I asked, or because I was talking about how well Stella was doing, but because he honestly believed them, meant so much to me.

And so, my family got to see Stella for perhaps the last time. But the fact that they did, and that they saw how happy she is, is something I will never forget and am so incredibly thankful for.

Tagged , , ,

Fraggle Friday: Highs and Lows

Sometimes Fraggle Friday posts are hard for me to write. While they are supposed to be a celebration of the dogs I love so much, sometimes they just remind me of the reality of having a 15 year old dog who has seizures.

And when your 15 year old dog has a seizure after not having had one for 6 months and 4 days, it can be hard to think about much else. And while you want to write a post celebrating your dogs, you know you’re just going to write a post re hashing the seizure.

So, let’s pepper the post with cute Stella pics of the last week to remind me that really, this stoic little monkey dog is doing really, really, well.

IMG_0266

While she can’t run or hike with me like she used to, she does get to come along for the ride.

The day prior to the seizure Stella came to Boise with me and then ended the day literally bombing around the barn. Eating hoof trimmings and galloping around like a racehorse.

Image-1

And looking damn adorable

So, clearly, when at 7:45am the following morning I heard her fall in the kitchen, I dropped the laundry I was folding in the bedroom and ran to her side. The seizure didn’t last long, I held her head until her body stopped convulsing. She came out of it fairly quickly, and laid in my arms for a minute or two afterwards. She always vomits afterwards, and this time she vomited up her anti seizure pill. ‘Cause it clearly wasn’t doing its job.

IMG_0285

Post seizure Siri immediately went to lay with her

Previously, post seizure Stella would sleep, have a loss of appetite and feel generally blah. This time, she was ready to go for a walk and wolfed down her breakfast. Per the veterinarian’s advice I gave her another anti seizure pill and she acted normal and happy for the rest of the day. And continues to do so as I write this.

IMG_0295

Just out for another walk in the Idaho weather

As for me, I actually recovered really well too. 🙂

I was freaked out when it happened, but it didn’t consume me. I think because it was less of a surprise- I’ve seen her have seizures before, I knew there was a possibility she would have another one. And she did. And now we need to see if she continues to have them and if anything else changes before I go ahead and become all dramatic

IMG_0296

So many smiles

Ironically, I was supposed to be back east this week, visiting family. But, I cancelled the trip and decided to stay home with Stella. I just didn’t feel right leaving her, especially since the trip would be at exactly 6 months since she had her first seizure, and I couldn’t believe Stella was still with me 6 months later. (If she has a brain tumor, which I still believe she does, they are typically fast growing, and there is a life expectancy of about 4-6 months). It didn’t seem right leaving her with someone else, especially for a trip that I could reschedule. Lets just say, I’m glad I stayed. I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to watch her have a seizure and I don’t envy the person who has to call me and tell me she had a seizure. Plus, a staycation is such a great thing and I highly recommend everyone take a few days just to stay home and relax. Always travelling for vacation doesn’t seem to give me the same reboot.

So, there we have it. The highs and lows of senior pets. I’m hoping for more running and smiling pics in our future.

 

 

Tagged , , , ,

Fraggle Friday: Things I’ve Learned About Senior Dogs

Stella is not my first senior dog. Montana, my very first dog, was adopted while I was in college and I had her for about 12 years. She grew old with me, and in the end, despite two hip replacements to help with severe hip dysplasia, her body just couldn’t do it anymore.

There’s some ailments that seems to affect most senior dogs, once they’re of a certain age. Decreased mobility and dementia seem to be the ones that effect the most dogs, in my experience. Montana started to go into corners and stare at walls. She began panting and pacing a lot, usually not needing to go anywhere, just as if she was uncomfortable in her own skin. I tried special food, and even meds. And they helped to a certain degree, but in the end, she was an old dog, and I couldn’t change that.

MandS.jpg

While I did everything I could for Montana, I feel I have learned so much more about what senior dogs need through the years.  And while I am happy Stella gets to benefit from this, it hurts my heart that Montana did not. Senior dogs need special care. More than just a dog food labeled “Senior.” A friend, lamenting about aging parents, said to me “once an adult, twice a child.” It took me a moment to understand what she meant, but then it rang so true. We start our lives depending on others, and unable to care for ourselves, and if we live long enough, most likely we will end our lives the same way. I think about this phrase a lot when I am caring for Stella and it’s led me to understand a few things that can really help senior pets.

Stick to a Routine

If you don’t do anything else, this will still help your senior dog immensely. Stella knows my routine better than I do. She knows that I open the blinds to the front window right before I take her for a walk. She would hear or see those blinds move, and she knew it was time to get up and get going. Nowadays, she can’t hear the blinds opening, and rarely wakes up while I am opening them, but I keep the routine the same regardless. Feeding time, walk time, nap time, everything, I try to keep it as regimented as possible. If she wants to sleep in, great, but if I don’t wake up when she wants to go out, she starts to pace and gets stressed. Knowing what to expect greatly reduces her stress, and I do my best to help with that.

baby baby.jpg

Remember New Places Aren’t as Fun as They Used to Be

What young dog doesn’t bound out of the car and love to explore new smells? Siri is an absolute spaz the first night in a new place. And while Stella has travelled to hundreds of places with me, and she still loves a car ride, spending time in a new place when you can’t see or hear very well, can be very stressful. Especially for dogs suffering from dementia. Getting out of her familiar routine and having to adjust to a new place can create an anxious, pacing, dog. To try and help her, I always bring along her favorite bed. I try to put this bed away from all the activity going on so she has a quiet location she can claim as her own. If she were better about being crate trained, I would bring her crate along and just have her hang out in her crate in a new place. I’ve cut back on a lot of the places I house/pet sit as it’s too stressful for her, and instead try and only take her places with me that she knows well.

Take a Cue From Motel 6

And leave the light on for them. Stella used to get up and walk into things when she was trying to find her water bowl. After a night of this, I went out and purchased a night light. Now, Stella follows the light and has no problem finding her water bowl. In new places, I leave a stronger light on for her since she won’t be as familiar with where she is going. It seems to have made a huge difference in her anxiety level. I also think this is key for dogs with dementia, especially if the pacing and staring happens primarily at night.

baby stella.jpg

They May Need to Go Out More Frequently

This one probably seems pretty obvious. But it took an accident in the house for the first time in 11 years for me to realize my senior dog Montana couldn’t hold her bladder for 6-7 hours anymore. With Stella, I try to get her our every 4-4.5 hours during the day, and she usually sleeps 7-8 hours at night without an issue. However, she’s quick to let me know that even if it’s snowing and 5am, she still needs to go out. I limit her evening water intake if possible, or try to get her drinking around 6-7 pm rather than 9-10pm.

They May Not Want to Go for a Walk

Stella loved nothing more than running and running and running some more when she was young. Even these days, she loves bombing around the barn, helping me bring June in from her paddock. But other times, she has zero desire to go for a walk. She wants to go potty and go back inside. And that’s ok. I let her dictate what she wants to do, rather than me sticking to a plan. I let her be the control freak, rather than me. Or, I try at least.

Getting Old is Hard for Them, Too

It’s hard for us to see our dogs age. The once crazy puppy who now spends 90% of its time sleeping can be a hard transition to experience. Stella has always been an independent dog who never needed my help. But that’s changed now. She needs my help going up the stairs. She needs my help to soften her kibble prior to eating it. She relies on me for so many things now. I know she doesn’t love it when I help her up the stirs. I know she would rather not need to be leashed when it is dark out because she can’t see her way. So, I try to honor who she was by still giving her as much independence as possible. If there are steps she can go up and down, I let her. I praise her like crazy for taking a few steps at a run. I pretend I’ve just walked into the house when she doesn’t wake up until I have been there for a good 5 minutes. I try to be my most patient self at all times because deep down, I know that taking a minute or two longer to get up isn’t happening because it’s what she wants, it’s happening because it’s all she can do.

20180827_Nadia10.jpg

We still spend time on top of mountains so she can feel the wind in her fur PC: Nate Liles

So give your senior pup a kiss and enjoy every single moment you have with them. They sure deserve it!

 

 

 

Tagged , ,

Fraggle Friday: Stella Update, 7 Months Post Surgery

It’s been just over 7 months since I made the decision for Stella to have back surgery. Am I glad I made the decision I did? Absolutely. While the fact that she most likely has a brain tumor is devastating, I have to say she had an incredible summer swimming and getting out and about. And while she has slowed down a bit with the colder weather, she still seems no worse for wear. Now, remember, she’s 15 years old. So she spends her time doing a lot of this:

IMG_0071

She rarely cuddles with Siri so this was actually pretty magical

But when she is awake, she is eating well, eager to go for walks and when we get to the barn, one of her favorite places, she runs around like a banshee

IMG_0046

Yay walks!

Obviously, every day with her is a treasure, especially since I am not positive we will have a lot more of them.

But for now, I’m excited to see report that she is doing great and seems to be enjoying life to its fullest. Just like we all should be!

IMG_0041

One of my dogs has no shame in front of our foster dog…

 

 

Tagged , ,

Fraggle Friday: Stella Update!

Poor Stella, she just hasn’t gotten the blog attention she deserves.

IMG_9834

To be honest, in the last few weeks, she has really slowed down. More sleeping, less enthusiasm about going for walks.

IMG_9817

It could be she is less enthusiastic to go for a walk when the weather is crap, but she looks so cute in her raincoat shouldn’t she want to show it off?

She still sleeps through the night, as long as you consider night to be over by 4:30 or 5am. The good news is, if she does get up this early, I let her out to potty, she comes back in and goes right back to sleep. So, naturally, I do too…

IMG_9835

She and my cat, Bunny, sleep together like this every night

She really can’t see at all. Especially in the dark. She can see things right in front of her, but that’s about it. Her hearing is hit or miss, she seems to be able to hear high-pitched whistles, but often doesn’t hear me when I come home and I need to make some noise to wake her up.

So, essentially, she’s old.

IMG_9838

Another raincoat pic. This time in the sleet…. ugh

But besides getting older, and the difficulties associated with that, she’s doing pretty well! Walking and hop/running, no more seizures, and she is just as opinionated as ever.

So, naturally, I am just trying to enjoy every moment of it.

 

Tagged , , ,

Fraggle Friday: Stella’s 15th Birthday!

This past Wednesday was a very special day. So specia, in fact, that I deemed it a holiday and took the day off of work. It was, you guessed it, Stella’s 15th birthday!

I had major plans for the monkey, I wanted to make sure it was a truly special day. I ended up doing an Instagram story chronicling the day which was really fun.

It started with a walk around the block.

IMG_9547

Then she had breakfast with a few extra treats thrown in, followed by a nap so Siri and I could go for a run.

Her favorite part of the day was probably what happened next…

IMG_9544

IMG_9545

SWIM TIME!!!

After being thoroughly worn out playing fetch, she came home for another nap. And woke up just in time for her acupuncture appointment!

Basically acupuncture for Stella involves her laying on her bed gulping down treats while some needles go into her back. She’s pretty good at just laying there..as long as there are treats!

Then it was time for me to make the birthday cupcakes! A mixture of peanut butter, ground beef and lamb jerky, all her favorite things!

IMG_9529

When you’re 15 your birthday involves a lot of this…

Because, little did Stella know, she was having a surprise party! Sure, the surprise party was all my friends (she is over having dog friends stop by), but it was still fun and involved drinking mojitos and singing happy birthday!

IMG_9546

Siri was so excited that I made her a cupcake too!

At about 8pm Stella let me know she was totally over all of it, and wanted to go to bed. So my friends and I went to dinner and she went to bed, exhausted from all the activities.

I’d say it was a pretty great birthday and I am elated I got to spend another one with my best dog.

Tagged , ,
Advertisements
Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning

A widower at forty-two. What Kateri gave me... what cancer took away... and how I'm coping with life from the woods of Vermont

Centered in the Saddle

On horseback as in life: stay centered for best results.

Eventer in Progress

Laughing at oneself is best done as a group activity

Adventures in Thoroughbreds

Chronicling the journey of an OTTB

Stampy and the Brain

Adventures with my two three favorite horses

The Homesteaders Wife

Faith, Family & Life On The Homestead

Boss Mare Eventing

An amateur eventer's adventures

Three Chestnuts

The life and trials of the three red heads

In Omnia Paratus

An amateur eventer's adventures

Hope's Promise

The blog of a dressage dream come(ing) true

SprinklerBandits

An amateur eventer's adventures

Zen and the Art of Baby Horse Management

An inquiry into values and survival in a life with baby horses

the everything pony

who would really much rather eat all day

DIY Horse Ownership

on Mules, Horses, and DIY

OTTBs and Oxers

Eventing. Hunters. Horsemanship.

Horse Glam

Equestrian. Life. Style.

The Frugal Foxhunter

More bang for your buck than showing

The Printable Pony

An amateur eventer's adventures

The Roaming Rider

"Don't live the same year 75 times and call it a life." - Robin Sharma

Urban Thoroughbred

West and East Coast adventures with OTTBs

Clover Ledge Farm

An amateur eventer's adventures

Eventing Saddlebred Style

An amateur eventer's adventures

The Repurposed Horse

An amateur eventer's adventures

PONY'TUDE

An amateur eventer's adventures

Poor Woman Showing

An amateur eventer's adventures

Live Your Adventure

Tara - Horse lover, horse rider, horse enthusiast

SmartPak Blog

An amateur eventer's adventures

The Blog of Travel

Motorbikes, dogs and a lot of traveling.

Hunky Hanoverian

An amateur eventer's adventures

*TBA*

An amateur eventer's adventures

Cob Jockey

An amateur eventer's adventures

She Moved to Texas

An amateur eventer's adventures

Guinness on Tap

An amateur eventer's adventures

Equestrian At Hart

adventures in riding & life

 Clover Ledge Farm

An amateur eventer's adventures

Viva Carlos

An amateur eventer's adventures

Horsemanship 101

Leprechaun Lane Training Center's Guide to Horsemanship

ridingwithscissors.wordpress.com/

Horse humor and the musings of a weenie adult eventer

May As Well Event

Here's To Not Following Your Own Advice

A Yankee in Paris

No animals were harmed in the making of this blog...

Horse Listening

Horses. Riding. Life.