Old Dogs

When Champ, my Yorkie, made it to the ripe old age of 15, he became the oldest house dog we’ve ever had by a wide margin so this is my first experience dealing with the issues inherent in an aging pet.  When John, my darling spouse, made it to the ripe old age of 58, he became the oldest husband I’ve ever had by an even wider margin so this is my first experience dealing with the issues inherent in an aging mate.  Oddly enough, there are a lot of similarities between the two.

Digestion:  Champ has been on a special diet for a number of years due to his delicate digestive system and two attacks of pancreatitis.  If someone mistakenly gives him table scraps, the results aren’t pretty.  Fortunately, if he stays on his special diet, he gets along fine.  John started using antacids about 10 years ago graduating to Prilosec OTC and most recently prescription Nexium for heartburn and acid reflux.  If he eats something he knows he shouldn’t, the results aren’t pretty.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t stay on any special diet so from time to time, he needs some TLC.

Sleep:  Champ rarely sleeps through the night anymore.  On a good night, I only have to put him outside once, and he goes right back to sleep.  On a bad night he might be up 4 or 5 times, and he occasionally demands attention by whining until I hold him.  John rarely sleeps through the night anymore.  On a good night he only gets up once.  On a bad night he snores nonstop so I can’t get back to sleep after I am up with Champ.  Between the two of them, I am sleep deprived most of the time.

Infirmities:  Champ has cataracts and profound hearing loss.  This makes going outside an adventure because he can’t find the door to come back in or hear me call.  Fortunately, he can still see movement so when I see him scratching at the window rather than the door, I wave my arms and kick my legs until he notices the activity and wanders over.  He can still navigate around furniture, but occasionally he will walk into a corner and struggle to find his way out.  John has glasses and annoying hearing loss.  He refuses to wear the glasses all the time because he only needs them for reading.  That means they are constantly misplaced which of course means he is always asking me where his glasses are.  He doesn’t think his hearing loss is bad enough for medical intervention, but I often have to serve as his interpreter when he misses a line from a television show or a bit of conversation in a crowded room.  I have even threatened to start recording our conversations when we argue about whether or not I told him something.  Fortunately, he hasn’t gotten stuck in any corners yet.

Comfort: Champ knows when I’m having a bad day, and he will curl up in my lap to let me know everything will be okay.  He still gets excited every time I come home and dances around in circles to let me know he’s happy to see me.  John knows when I’m having a bad day, and he will take me for a walk or hold me in his arms to let me know everything will be okay.  He still gets excited every time I come home, but I haven’t been able to get him to dance in years.

Despite some of the challenges, having an old dog has its advantages.  They are familiar with your routine and they know the rules even if they don’t always follow them.  One thing is certain, I’m sticking with what I have because I don’t have the patience to house break another one.

 

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