The older dog

John is an extremely experienced member and trainer of Gun Dogs. Hints, tips and general advice can be found in here which will build into an extremely useful souce of informatation

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The older dog

Post by John » 27 Nov 2007, 00:22

I was reading Glenys’s post the other day about “The Oldies.” It’s so sad, but our dogs become old so soon. We collect a young puppy of 8 weeks old and in just 10 years they are beginning to get old. All this is brought home in very sharp relief now when I look at my Anna who will be 10 next May. She has given me years of love, and now I want to do my best for her. But what can I do?

It was strangely enough, a question I was asked yesterday. In Anna’s case, as most of you know, is a working Labrador, and to simply stop taking her to the shoot would be so hard on her, but I can limit what she does. She is now semi retired. I still take her with me when I go to feed the birds and I’ll take her on a friend’s little rough shoot where she has not too much to do. But for busy days, it’s now up to Amy to cover

Joints start to get stiff. Arthritis starts to get hold. Exercise is needed to keep the joints moving but exercise is painful. But again, there is help available in the form of supplements. The most usual being Glucosamine, Chondroitin and Green Lipped Mussel Extract. There is no shortage of different supplements on the market, some specifically for cats and dogs, others for humans and it can certainly pay to find which works best in your dog’s particular situation. Some dogs have muscular problems, others bone and others a combination of both. One I have found particularly good for Anna is “Flexivet”. At £6.99 for 60 tablets, one per day, it’s certainly not expensive. Chatting to a friend, she is using the human Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM by Natures Aid and swears by it! On the occasion when she could not get the Natures Aid she tried the Holland and Barrett, but that never worked for her. All this goes to show how you need to experiment to find what works for you. I know of other people having great success using the Holland and Barrett.

As time goes by so exercise starts to be a struggle. I’ve always tried to go with quality rather than quantity. A trip to the woods in the car, followed by a gentle ten minute stroll off lead through the trees is far better than half an hour of lead walking. Go no further than your dog can manage without having to pay for it the next day. Going out for a walk is really only to put a little “Zing” into their life. He can get quite enough exercise during the occasional stroll around the garden and maybe on cold or wet days he might be happier quietly laying in front of the heater. Vet sometimes give 6 monthly injections of Cartrophen which can help relieve painful joints. Although I’m not a lover of drugs like Rimadyl and Metacam, but with an old dog I figure that if it can give a few more months of pain free living then it’s worth the risk that it might bring the end nearer. We have nothing to loose and everything to gain.

Remember food requirements tail off slightly as a dog gets old and starts to slow, so be prepared to reduce the feed slightly. I also like to keep the weight down to the lower end of the spectrum. After all, the more weight a dog is carrying the more strain it’s putting on the joints. But be careful. Sometimes in an older dog the internal organs are not working quite as efficiently as when he was younger, so he may not be getting the full value from the food, so going against what I said earlier, you may need to increase slightly.

Old dogs can often develop strange ways. Several of mine have sat outside looking at the sky, and one or two even barking at the sky! I’ve even had mild incontinence. It’s not the dog being naughty, in the case of my Lucy I’m convinced she never knew she was doing it. Watch for excessive drinking. It could be just a normal old age thing, but it could be a sign of age related diabetes. Strong smelling urine could be a sign of this and if you suspect it a vet can soon confirm it from a sample of urine. Often there is no one sign of problems. It’s more a number of small things which take a time for you to actually realise that something is wrong.

I’m not going to talk about the end here. We all have our own ideas on where preserving like becomes more for our benefit than for our dogs. This is something we most of us have to decide one day, and when it comes, you will know. Our dogs give us so much love and it’s down to us not to let them down at the end.

Regards, John

Nesslabs

Post by Nesslabs » 27 Nov 2007, 00:46

That's so sensitively and beautifully written - and it shines through how much you love your dogs.

Thank you.

Kathleen

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Post by janhind » 27 Nov 2007, 09:25

Very valuable advice, its nice that people can share their experience with others, jan xx
It is never too late.

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Post by LabRes1 » 27 Nov 2007, 09:47

Beautifully written john. We have old Anna who is 15 and arthritic. She loves her walk but out the door, 50 yards and turn around is as much as we allow her although she would go further. We have found that any more and she starts to stumble and limp. Why take an old dog for a 2 mile walk every day when the dog isnt able to enjoy it anymore without suffering later..

Anna has Glucosomine tablets daily and a monthly injection to ease her joints. When she came to us from Glenys, we were told she might last another 6 months. Nearly 3 years later she is still here and I think I can say quite confidently, still enjoying life. The eyes still sparkle and the tail still wags..

Her bowel control isnt what it used to be and occasionally we have an accident - and when she lets us know she wants to go out - she means now and not when we get around to it! but she is such a loving, dignified old girl - the matriach of the pack and as long as she is happy, then thats all that matters and if she involves extra time, care and love as she gets older, so be it.

As much as having young Toby our 9 month old pup is a joy, the pleasure of taking in the old ones and seeing them settle in, relax and enjoy their twilight years is every bit, if not more so, as rewarding as having a young one and the trade off between the length of time they are with us against the love they show and the satisfaction they ended their lives in a loving caring home is well worth it

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Post by Glenys » 27 Nov 2007, 10:40

That is a lovely post John I know how much your girls mean to you I remember thats how we became friends when you had lost your old Labrador and I emailed you and that was many years ago.
You have also seen me lose a few beloved dogs in that time and always offered such sensible advice and caring too..

We should always treasure our oldies make every day special and see to their medications and diet needs some people forget this
I used to see a Lady walking an old Lab and I can see the old Lab going slower and slower and the woman seems oblivious to the fact that she cant do that same walk as well now,its also amazing how many people when their dogs are limping in old age say oh its simplly because she is old,not accepting a little extra nuitritional help would do wonders.





(good luck today John I will be rooting for you xxx)

Glenys x

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Post by jackiem » 27 Nov 2007, 11:40

Thank you for those lovely words John. Our lovely old Max is 12 1/2 and although he doesn't suffer from arthritis, he has slowed down and we restrict him to two twenty minute strolls a day. He really enjoys sniffing every blade of grass or so it seems. Having lost my first lab at 11 1/2, the second at 10 1/2 (due to complications following an operation) and then Polly at 12 1/2 earlier this year, we really appreciate every extra day that we have with Max who luckily is still relatively healthy apart from bumps and lumps. I had my first two girls since they were 8 weeks old, Rosie 4 weeks after we lost Betsy, but Polly and Max came to us together via the Rescue 7 years ago. Losing Polly was no easier than losing Betsy and Rosie even though I had not "brought her up" and I am dreading the day when it is time to say goodbye to Max but until then he is our lovely old boy who still loves his food, walks, cuddles, tummy tickles, ear tickles (and especially his ears being cleaned), being hoovered by Henry the hoover and playing tunnels through my legs (I don't wear skirts any more - too much danger of being toppled over). Every single day is precious and we are lucky to have such a lovely dog who is so full of character.

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Post by smitty » 27 Jan 2008, 22:45

Fudge is now ten or eleven -ish and he came to us from MKF when he was sixish. We have had four wonderful years so far and for his age he is a very young dog according to the vet. He is getting white around the muzzle and his eyes are a bit cloudy but luckily he has very little stiffness and manages to play with the young dogs when we are out. As he gets older though I really miss the years we never had with him though to be honest I think nowadays we would struggle with a young dog.
Marie

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Post by Glenys » 27 Jan 2008, 23:10

Old dogs are special they have their own character their years like pages in a book when we get to the twilight years each day is so precious.
Loving a dog is a special gift to them and they in turn give that gift back to you,some of our dogs we have from puppyhood they go through the learning time and look to you for guidance and we halp create the finished result.
In rescue many of you have had a dog who may have been given up for any reason some sad some just simply have tired of the youngster or oldie.
The saddest time is when an oldie is moved on for a youngster I can never understand this one.
When a dog is young they can adapt to changes in their life its a little harder when the dog is old but love will conquer any problems.
Sadly like us dogs get old they wear out and its up to us to keep them happy the gift of love is knowing when the right time comes to let us do whats best for the dog,our Friend.

Some years ago My Friend jane and I were discussing our Dogs Luto and William we were talking about how much we loved them and how hard it would be to imagine life without them two dogs with wonderful characters

I wrote a poem with this in mind the poem is called "Is your Heart"
another friend who does pedigrees for people always puts my poem on the back today we took a dog in called Hovis and this poem was on his pedigree.

I think it sums up what I feel for my dogs of course there have been a few dogs since William but the sentiment remains the same;







Is your Heart.



Do you think your heart is big enough to store the love he gives
this handsome pup you've just aquired
in the short time that he lives

Do you think your heart is wide enough
to store up all the pride
Of the handsome dog,all grown up
as he walks out by your side

And will your heart be strong enough to cope with all the pain
When the time has come to say goodbye
You cant see him again

Well when my hearts no longer strong
and my life comes to an end
There will be a celebration,cos i'll see my friend again

As I take my walk on heavenly shores
I know that I will see
That familiar face,that wagging tail
Waiting there for me.




copywrite gfryer

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Post by John » 27 Jan 2008, 23:18

Hi Marie,
Just because the eyes are getting a little cloudy does not necessarily mean that his sight is going. There is an age related condition which older dogs sometimes get which looks for all the world like cataracts, but is not. My Beth was like this and as I organise eye testing I was in the position to let the experts have a look. Beth's sight, although having this cloudy appearance for the last couple of years of her life, was very good right too the end.

After having enjoyed a wonderful season in the field, picking up with Amy, she decided to come into season with 3 shoots left to go. So I decided to bring Anna out of retirement for those last three days. And at nearly 10 years old she proved she's lost none of her old skills! Although a little slower she now no longer runs faster than her nose, so what she's lost on speed she more than made up for on accuracy! These oldies are so wonderful!

Regards, John

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Post by John » 27 Jan 2008, 23:29

Oh G! I know my Beth will be there, getting up to mischief as usual, and Mandy laying down the law to everyone. Plus all the others going all the way back to Monty, Butch and all. They were all of them the loves of my life when alive, and live on in my memory now they are no longer here with me.

John x

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Post by janhind » 28 Jan 2008, 00:04

Thats a beautiful poem Glenys, brings tears to my eyes thinking of all my oldies that are now gone, jan xx
It is never too late.

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Post by jackie » 28 Jan 2008, 09:38

What a lovely post this is and a very useful one too. My girls are young at the moment and very fit, I love to see them bounding through the countryside without a care or a pain, but sadly I know that those days are limited and therefore very precious. As John said our dogs become old too soon :cry: and all we can do is try to help them as much as we can in their later years.

Jackie x

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Post by smitty » 28 Jan 2008, 13:05

Hi John - thanks for your comments - good to hear from you again. Whatever senses Fudge is using he certainly seems to miss very little. He does however have a very serious case of 'selective deafness' when he finds something disgusting to eat. We are using positive reinforcement to try to get over this but I just have to admit he is a wily old chap - wonderful though!
Marie

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Post by jackiem » 28 Jan 2008, 16:18

Your poem brought a tear to my eye too Glenys.
I've been having a few tears over the past couple of days reading about Jet.
How much difference a couple of months makes. On 27th November I wrote that Max was relatively healthy for his age. One month on he had to start taking steroids due to paralysis of the larynx and Glenys kindly suggested honey to ease his throat. He adores his honey and takes his tablets like the well behaved gentleman that he is. We have now had to stop taking him for walks altogether except for accompanying him around the garden because his breathing is so laboured with the least exercise. Another two weeks on the steroids and we then have to decide whether he is to have an operation to help ease the problem. At 12 years 7 months this is a difficult decision, especially as Rosie died following an operation due to complications. I love the old lad to bits and we have a wonderful vet who will call in a specialist to perform the operation so I am taking some comfort in this.
As has been mentioned before, the oldies are adorable, they have real character and thrive on love. Bless them all!
Jackie

colin2

good old oldies

Post by colin2 » 09 May 2008, 02:27

thanks john for the good reading INDI is getting in to his older year at over 10 yep I have had him 5 years it as if I have had him for years he was a puller but has stopped as I have an icd in it is great with him he just walk along with me now on the field were i live he is still trying to drive my van and I am hoping to be at the fun day again this year.
he has just got a new friend my grand daughter as she has come to stay for a bit well till they find some were to live , she is all over him and she is only 2 lol so funny he just puts up with her, but is there to get tip bits if he can from her.
it is so nice to see a small child with a dog having some fun

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