I talk to my dogs, I tell them what I’d like them to do, and I ask them questions. Whenever I do this while I’m on the phone with my mother she always laughs, and asks if they understand what I’m saying. Of course they do is my standard reply, and it’s the truth!! When I tell her the dogs are telling me something, she laughs even harder.
We never grew up with any pets, so living with animals is something foreign to her. It’s tough for her to grasp the fact they can understand what we’re saying, and they have lots to say in return.
So what are the important things YOUR senior dog is trying to tell you? This list comes straight from a very trustworthy source – the love of my life Red.
I may be old but I still want to enjoy my life
I don’t know why so many humans think just because we’re old we’d rather lie around on our beds all day. How boring is that!! It’s true many of us do it, but a lot of the times it’s because we’re bored out of our minds and don’t have the energy to move. Take me out for walks, play with me, and don’t leave me behind while the rest of you are out having a great time.
We both need exercise
I know just hearing the word makes you tired, and after working all day you want to sit yourself down and relax. Hey I hear you, I’m happy lying next to you on the couch, but the less active I am, the less active I become. You and I are going to get fat (you’re always complaining your clothes don’t fit!!) and sick. Not to mention our brain cells will start to die without some mental stimulation.
I still love to eat as much, but my metabolism isn’t what it used to be
You know what I’m saying, because the same thing happens to humans. I already mentioned the need to move our butts more, but I think it’s time to check my portion sizes, or find a better food for me that’s filling but less fatty.
I don’t need a treat every time you look at me!
Is it guilt or because I’m so darn cute? Whatever the reason, it really isn’t necessary to give me a treat every time you see me. Maybe if I did something to deserve it… but otherwise get your hand out of the treat jar!
I feel the cold more than I used to
I admit I always thought sweaters and coats were for sissies, but now I think it’s time you went shopping. It’s an activity you love so there’s no real effort is there! I beg you not to dress me up in dresses or ridiculous outfits, let’s be practical about this. A sweater in the house would be great too!
Could you also check the temperature in the room I’m sleeping in? Make sure the central heating is on, or at least add a heater so I can stay warm.
Oh yeah two more things – a nice fleece blanket on my bed would be great, because if I’m chilly I could always wrap myself up in it. A self-warming mat for the bed would be helpful too thank you!
I can’t see or hear you as well as I used to
It’s true I may have ignored you at times in my youth, but that’s because I was perfectly happy doing what I was doing and if I’m honest, you were being a bit of a buzz kill. Unfortunately that’s not the case anymore, it’s because I can’t hear you as well. How about training me with hand signals, this way I’ll still understand what you want me to do, and it will be fun to do some tricks again. Of course I may still ignore you at times because I’m busy!
If you’ve noticed me starting to walk into things, maybe stumbling, or even lifting my legs like a prancing pony when I walk, it’s because I’m starting to lose my sight. I would appreciate it if you didn’t just assume it’s a natural part of the aging process and let things progress. Please take me to the eye doctor not the vet, because as great as he is, he’s no expert in the field and perhaps something could be done to save my sight.
It would suck if I couldn’t see you anymore!
I’m not an idiot!
You know all those dog forums and Facebook groups you belong to, looking for tips on how to disguise all those disgusting medications you’re trying to give me? I hate to break it to you but you ain’t foolin’ me! I know they’re in there, and sometimes I spit the food out because I’m pissed you’re not being honest. Other times I give in because I know how hard you’re trying.
Sometimes I’m in pain
I hate the thought of slowing down and not being able to chase everything in sight, but we’re all getting older and I’m not immune to that condition called aging.
If you see me struggling to get up, not walking as far or as quickly, or lying in bed more than is normal, assume I’m in pain and get me some relief! I’m not wild about drugs but if it helps bring them on, but I would appreciate some natural solutions as well. Old doesn’t mean I shouldn’t still be able to move around.
Take me for shorter walks, some swimming would be great, and if there is a stroller that suits my body shape, one of those would be helpful. We can still enjoy going out, and I get to take a break when I need to without cutting our excursions short.
My world revolves around you
I know you have friends, family, hobbies, a career, responsibilities and your new found hobby of knitting that is taking time away from everything in your life, but all I have is you. I know you have to leave me sometimes but my whole world revolves around you, and I love you no matter what, and that includes the days when you’re moody and maybe even a little less patient with me. You are my bestie, and I like to think I’m yours too.
I rely on you to adapt to my changing needs
If you notice I can’t jump onto the couch easily anymore buy me some stairs, and if I’m not seeing as well, make sure those kids don’t leave anything in my path. I have to rely on you to adapt to my changing needs. That also means taking me to the vet more often so he can catch something before it becomes too serious. What can I say, I have a lot of things still left to accomplish!
Don’t get mad at me for your mixed signals
You can’t get mad at me for begging at the table, when you’re the one who oh so casually puts their hand under the table during dinner and slips me some chicken. When I bark for more you yell at me. What’s up with that?
I need some personal space!
I am beyond grateful for the amazing care you take of me, and I know there are times when you have to make a lot of sacrifices. I know you want that purse but you spend the money on me instead. Having said that, sometimes you drive me nuts!!
It’s true I’ve told you I don’t like to be left alone too much, but once in awhile could you stop staring at me? I know you watch to make sure I’m still breathing and I know I worry you, but if you don’t get me a bit of alone time, even just a few minutes, I will have to report you as a stalker.
Sometimes I get confused
Cognitive changes happen, even dementia happens and believe me it’s not fun. I may forget my housetraining and have an accident, I may start wandering aimlessly, or even seem to not know who you are. Take me to the vet and if he thinks it’s dementia make sure you leave there with drugs and suggestions for natural treatments. I know for sure they’re out there and they can help.
I may need some help eating or even finding my bowl, so hold it up for me and help me.
You may have to cover your floor with pee pads, and I know it will give you a migraine but it’s for me!!
I’m starting to feel some anxiety and fear now
Whether it’s because my senses are failing me, I’m experiencing some pain or some other aging related issue, whatever the reason I am feeling a bit more anxious or frightened now.
There are ways you can help me though –
- Prepare a quiet space for me to go to if the house gets too noisy
- Play games with me and give me puzzles to figure out to help keep my brain functioning
- Cover your beautiful slippery floors with some rugs or yoga mats. It’s very disconcerting to be sliding all over the place and not being able to get my footing
- Sit with me on the couch and wrap me in a blanket because it will comfort me
- If you have to leave me alone could you get someone to stay with me for company?
- Valerian, Skullcap and Valerian, calming music, a Thundershirt and a plug in pheromone diffuser could help me feel less anxious.
I am a great listener
I never told anyone there were times you would hug me and cry when you were sad, and I didn’t mind getting all wet because all I wanted to do was be there for you. Always remember I’m still here for you, and I can comfort you as well as I ever did.
I still need to be pampered
No matter how old I get I still need a bath, I need my nails cut and if my hair grows, I need a trim. Remember, you’re not the only one who wants to look good! I would love for you to brush my hair while I snuggle next to you, but if you could buy a soft brush that would be great.
Sometimes I need a nap
I’ve caught you napping on the couch plenty of times, and I may need a nap on occasion as well. I appreciate you keeping me active, believe me I do, but make sure you schedule in some down time.
Please don’t abandon me because I’m old
I know many of my brothers and sisters from other mothers are being left in shelters when they get old. Please don’t do that to me. I’ve loved you ever since the day we met, and you should love me until the day I have to say goodbye.
Don’t deprive yourself of another dog
Don’t say you’ll never adopt another dog because it’s too heart breaking to say goodbye. So many of my senior dog pals weren’t as lucky as I was, so please give them a home in my honour…and memory
Don’t fall apart when I’m gone
I know you’re going to cry and blubber, crawl into bed and pull the covers over your head and disappear for awhile. I understand, we had such an incredible bond and I couldn’t have asked for a better home. Take the time you need to grieve, but not too much!! I will be over the rainbow bridge playing with all those who got here before me, and ready to greet those who will come after me. Celebrate how lucky you were.
Oh here we go with the waterworks. I knew my mom would blubber like an idiot when she wrote this last paragraph!! I asked her to do me one little favour, help me write this list, and now she’s in a state, hugging me so hard I can’t breathe.
I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.