Dealing with your Old Canine Friend

Ok, the next blog I was going to post was about “toilet training” your new puppy but as circumstances have it, I really feel the need to jump right from “puppies” to the elderly.
As most of you know, I lost my “heart dog” a couple of months ago (at the age of 13) and I’m still dealing with that grief.

Dharma was a most amazing companion, friend and as a registered assistance dog, she was also my work partner and I was lucky enough to have her constant companionship 24/7 for 12 years.
As with all of us, as we get up there in years, we have to deal with medical issues. Hopefully, these will be a minimum for you – however, with my sweet girl, she had had medical problems her whole life (seizures when she was younger, Lymphoma, back problems and Diabetes) – a long list of medications to be dealt with 4 times per day (and YES you have to be there so your whole life is tied up around medication times )but it was the loss of her sight and mobility issues that forced me to retire her from her usual tasks.

I found that it wasn’t until after I retired her from her normal duties (school presentations, Rotary, Lions Club functions etc.) that the Canine Cognitive Disfunction set in so to that effect, I urge you all to keep working on basic obedience with them for as long as you can – try and keep there brain working to the best of their ability – it may be a little frustrating for you but I believe that because I continued to work with her, it did slow the process a little.

It was horrible watching my best friend struggling to follow basic commands when she was the one that would open the refrigerator and retrieve a drink for me or go and grab the telephone for me if it rang!

Fairwell My Sweet Girl

Fairwell My Sweet Girl

Her life became a struggle for her to get from her sleeping mat to get up to go to the bathroom but for a while she was dealing with that reasonably well until the second stage of the Canine Cognitive Disfunction set in along with this stage also comes both Fecal & Urinary incontinence.

It is in this latter stage, and sometimes we get frustrated with them & I know, I quite frequently had to remind myself that what was going on was NOT her fault. I would take her outside to the bathroom & she would stand there or walk around for a little bit and then want to come back inside only to have the “accident” happen inside the house! Quite frequently, she would just wake up and THERE IT WAS! Under her tail with her not knowing how IT got there! In the early stages when this happened, she was Mortified! She had been such a clean girl her whole life and I could see that she was clearly upset about it – my husband was having a hard time with the accidents (he doesn’t deal with dog poop very well) and would wake me out of a deep sleep to let me know that an “accident” had occurred! At first we would joke about it but after a while I became very defensive – this is where significant other’s need to be a little sensitive about what they say and do – we their loved one knows what is happening and the decision we are facing and don’t need to have a constant reminder of how poorly our fur child is doing.
Making the decision to euthanize in my opinion is the hardest thing for any pet parent to do (I have been a Veterinary Technician for nearly 40 years) and it never gets any easier wheather it’s someone elses or your own.

Love comes in all forms and the best form of love that I can think of right now is having the strength to say goodbye.