“I can't think of anything that brings me closer to tears than when my old dog - completely exhausted after a hard day in the field - limps away from her nice spot in front of the fire and comes over to where I'm sitting and puts her head in my lap, a paw over my knee, and closes her eyes, and goes back to sleep. I don't know what I've done to deserve that kind of friend”
When does a dog go from being your adult friend to your elderly companion? Well, that depends on the dog. It also depends on your perspective. Dogs are all individuals, some age quickly whilst others seem not to age at all, then suddenly they are in their teens and it happened whilst you looked away.
Ageing is unavoidable. Everyone grows old and we really can’t do anything about that. The sad fact is that our dogs grow old much quicker than we do, giving us the opportunity to care for many dogs in our lifetimes, but also the privilege and sweet sadness of seeing them grow old in front of our very eyes.
The uniqueness of dogs is equal to that of people. Some of us run marathons into our eighties whilst others have never ran a day in our lives. Some read, and others watch TV, some have questioning minds whilst others prefer to live passively in the world and practice general acceptance. There is no right or wrong way to grow old for humans – it’s all down to preference and choice. Yes, some habits are healthier. Vitamins may help cells regenerate and a good diet might keep us younger for longer. The thing to remember, though, is that us humans have a choice.
Dogs that live with us don’t have nearly as many choices as we do. As they age, we hold all the cards in their life. For those of us that question this it can lead to worry and self-doubt. We know that we make lots of decisions for our dogs, but are we making the right ones? Is this specific diet best for his body, would he rather be resting or playing, and would he like a walk today or are his hips aching, yet he’s going through the motions anyway?
We can only do our best with the information we have. Offering things our dogs seem to like most, taking quiet time with them and observing their responses. We can learn the finer details of their language and this gives clues to their preferences, but we can’t sit and ask what they want through words. We can however give them choices and do the very best for them by involving them in details of their daily lives, which in part is what this book is all about.”