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Musings on an old dog

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It is coming upon 4 months since I said goodbye to my first border collie, my old gal Tyra. She was 15 1/2. My Seamus will be 14 the end of January. I thought I would have plenty of good time still with Seamus. Honestly Tyra was decrepit since she was 3. I was USED to her acting like an old dog. But Seamus was always the energizer bunny! Everyday at 6 am or earlier by my bed with his tail wagging saying "Get up! Its a new day! Let's play!"


But amid Tyra's health crisis I did not notice that Seamus got old and began failing. After Tyra was gone I noticed he was mostly deaf. Then he starting having problems with his back legs not working right. I assumed it was arthritis. And he acted like a dog that was not house trained. Peeing in the house, sometimes even with me right next to him. Then he got really sick, FAST. High fever and he was down and out for several days. Turned out he had a kidney and bladder infection. Probably at some low level for the last year. And then it turned major. After a month of antibiotics he got the all clear.


But he still isn't good. The rear limb problems persist and are getting worse. He no longer is joyous in the morning. We have not gone through the battery of neurological test to figure out EXACTLY what nerve problem he has. But we know it is some kind of degenerative nerve disease. He is on a trial of gabapentin to see if it helps. So far I can't tell.

Now as we do any of our usual activities I'm struck by all the wonderful things I take for granted in my old dog. For instance tonight, while he was eating I just stuck my hand in his bowl to move his food around to be sure he got his meds before they stared disolving. It does not phase him, my hand in his food. Trained from a wee pup that his bowl is my bowl, we never had an issue. I know this isn't the case with many dogs.


Every morning when I get out of the shower he is there to lick my legs as I dry off. Despite the major trial it has become to get up the stairs.


Every morning when we go for our walk he calmly waits at the end of the driveway for me to catch up and leash him. We used to do the walk off leash. But now that he can barely hear it is too dangerous. So he knows, after one time, that he must be on leash to leave the yard.


I've had to take him to work several times because he had to be monitored throughout the day. Somehow he knows, stay on the bed we bring in. And if you must get up, be silent and calm. How did he figure this out?


I love my old dog. I love his oldness more than all his earlier days. Despite the horrible sadness I know is not far around the corner. And still I would not trade it for anything! These dogs are such an honor.

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Wonderful musings. It sounds like Seamus is still enjoying life. I hope you have a good long while left.


Despite their limitations, old dogs can be so enjoyable.

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Every time I see a dog given up because the family finds it too onerous to deal with the needs of an elderly dog I am so sad. Every old dog I have had has been a gift and caring for them has been an honor and a labor of love. Its the last part of a long journey together and I find it special.

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