old dogs

Old dogs

One of the saddest things I see come across my FB feed are senior dogs looking for a home.  There are often small stories that accompany the photo; explaining that the dog is relinquished from a family that couldn't cope and/or didn't want to deal with old dog issues any longer.  What is wrong with people?  

Sometimes things change in life and humans must re-home a dog.  I do not judge people for this, shit happens as they say.  Perhaps they have to move somewhere where there dogs can not live with them; maybe they have dogs that don't get along.  No matter what, finding a new and wonderful home is the thing to do.  But getting rid of an old dog because it is old?  Inexcusable!!!!

You don't have time?  You don't want to clean and pick up after your old dog?  You can't deal with the slow pace and needs of your old dog?  Horrible.  So you took everything that your puppy, young dog and adult dog had to give and then walked away when it was your turn to give?  

I love old dogs. There is nothing like being gifted with the joy of time spent together.  Many people are never lucky enough to have an old dog; their dog passed far before it's time.  Old dogs require patience, kindness and tenderness.  I remember walking slower than a snail pace with my old girl Tilley as she recovered from Vestibular disease.  Patience was required as we barely moved around the park.  I remember hovering over Luke as he hunched to take a poop. I stood in the ready to catch him if his legs gave out as they had often done when he had his morning poop.  He hated being touched when he pooped so I had to help him in his blind spot.  This was done out of love and I felt honored to have been able to give him a helping hand when needed.  

There is nothing like caring for a dog who needs you.  Nothing comes close to giving out of love.  To offer unconditional love and care to a dog who has given their all to you.  

I just don't get how people can dump a senior dog when it is their turn to receive.  It is a horrible kind of person who does this; someone that you don't want to be associated with.  

Old dogs need our caring arms (metaphorically speaking) wrapped around them as they move into their golden years and beyond.  When the time comes for them to leave this world of ours; they should go by our side knowing the love that they deserve.  Giving the gift of your time, love, care and tenderness to an old dogs is where we show our true colors.  

Moving Through the Loss of your Canine Companion

This is my newest book.  It was published in August of last year and was a work from my heart.  This little book covers so many things in it; far more than just the actual loss.  My hope is that every dog lover will read it; no matter where you are in your relationship with your dog.  

We all know only too well that our dogs do not live nearly as long as we would like them to.  So, at some point everyone is going to have to go through loss.  I wish that all dogs who leave us are old and have had a great life but sadly that is not reality.  

The book is a step by step through the entire process.  It begins with the very first and most important question of "when?"  It explains everything from the very start of the end, through to the healing of grief and everything that it brings.  

I will be holding a FREE Webinar on February 02-2017 to discuss the subject of losing a canine and the book itself.  

Click here to register for the Webinar - Moving Through the Loss of your Canine Companion

If you are the guardian of a canine now, have lost a heart dog or want to know how to deal when the time comes, join us.  

My greatest wish is that this book and now the Webinar will help even just a few.  Join us and share your stories; as I will be sharing mine.  

If you are interested in reading the book before the Webinar you can find it here.  

Moving Through the Loss of your Canine Companion

If you would like to join the email list at Just Dogs with Sherri to find out what's new, up and coming and exciting, fill out the form below.  

Name *

Cross country memories

A photo that pretty much sums up everything from the start; and the cover of book number one.

Around now each year I am flooded with memories from 2011.  This year has brought me fewer memories as I've been very busy with my new and wonderful Grandbabies.  :)  But when I opened up my FB newsfeed this morning, there it was.  A reminder of a not so great time in my life.  What had started out as an exciting and big adventure; very quickly turned into a challenging trip, both physically and emotionally.  

A pile of poodles.  Luke up front, then Elsa and in the back, Tilley.  

So when the temperatures drop, the memories come.  But like anything, time helps to heal wounds; and the further we get away from that time in 2011 the easier it gets.  It gets easier but I will never forget what my son and I went through on our travels across the country with our four dogs.  I am a big believer in the old saying "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger."  Yep. 

At only 5 months of age, Elsa was amazing on our cross country trip.  

Many life lessons were dealt with on the trip across the country.  Even more once we landed and then headed back again.  Would I do it again?  Given the option of going through everything that we had to deal with? NO.  But like everything with life experience; it is what makes us who we are.  There are many things that we did back then in December 2011 that I would change and do differently.  But at the time I had yet to experience it all, so I didn't have the knowledge that I do now.  

Settled in and just weeks before Tilley passed.  

I look at life differently now and don't like to dwell too much on the past. That is, the past that brings with it bad memories.  One of my favorite sayings that I picked up in early 2012 was "don't look back, we're not going that way."  It's a good one and one that I try to follow.  

The whole ordeal that became two books (PBJ and me, And Back Again) was life altering.  Many of you followed us on our trip there, during and back again.   I tried to blog and share what I could, when I could.  It was a great support to have so many there to share it with.  

You can never be the same after going through something like it.  We lost our little Jack Russell, the matriarch of the canine pack mid trip.  Oklahoma will always have an impactful meaning to it for us.  It is there that we lost our little Jessie at nearly 16 years of age.  Then only weeks later after landing we lost our Lassie in poodle clothing, Tilley at 15.5 years of age.  

Life has a way of teaching us many lessons; some more desirable than others.  We cannot pick and choose, so we take our steps through it; hopefully learning as we go.  Life is a story for each and everyone us; we make our way through it with the decisions that we make daily.  With that comes memories that prepare us for the next part of our story, like it or not.   At this time of year, each year I stop to remember; but try not to dwell on the past. 

Life is a story.   

Rough night

I opened my eyes and tried to read the clock.  It took a minute as I focused on it across my bedroom.  2:38am.  Why was I awake?  Then I heard Luke stumbling around and jumped up to see where he was; he was standing in front of the door.  Funny how you just know when things are not right.  The smallest  noise that means Luke is up can wake me from a deep sleep.  I threw my covers off and grabbed my bathrobe before opening the door.  Luke had to go out and when he's in that frame of mind I have to get a hold of him.  Otherwise he will charge down the stairs without even giving it another thought; and he can't do that anymore.

I grabbed the hand towel that sits at the top of the stairs; and wrapped it around him quickly.  We ran down the stairs together with Elsa following.  Into the kitchen and out; but where was Elsa?  My house is all windows in the back so I looked out the kitchen door to see Elsa looking out the living room window, watching.  I called to her and she went out too; although she was back in a flash.  Luke was out a long time. 

This is becoming a more regular thing.  Finally he came back in and we all head up to bed again.  Unfortunately sleep was illusive for me as is customary these days as well.  So for two hours I lay there listening to Luke move around.  I'm not quite sure what the pacing is about.  He wants up on the bed; so he stands staring at me with his pleading eyes.  The bed has been off limits for a long time; unless it is morning and I am awake and watching.  He spends some time on the carpet; tries to fluff it for a while and then settles again.  He has a couple of drinks, looks outside and is on and off his bed again and again until hours later he settles for the night. 

He is always in the same place when I wake up each morning, his place.  He has his place in many different locations in the house.  His corner of the couch in the living room, his corner of the couch in the family room, his spot in my office and his corner in the bedroom.  The unsettling pacing is new; but it is also a symptom of liver disease.  Last Saturday, Sunday and Monday were bad nights; then he had two good nights until last night.  It is all about watching and figuring out what is okay and what is not at this point.  I fell asleep last night researching blood panels and results. 

I'm tired and no doubt Luke is tired as well.  But he'll have a chance to catch up on his rest today in one of "his" spots.  I feel like it was just yesterday that I was in the same place with Jessie and Tilley.  The sleepless nights of old dogs; I feel blessed to have had such old dogs to be sleepless with.  Early to bed tonight.   

I'm tiptoeing

I'm tiptoeing around, trying to pass Luke without waking him but it's not happening.  At 14 years old his hearing has only slightly diminished.  At the same age Tilley and Jessie's hearing was awful; I found myself constantly yelling.  After they passed it was difficult to get back into the "not yelling" mode.  Calling Luke and Elsa for dinner took the longest as that was the only time I really needed to get Jessie's attention.  Any other time I would just go get her; find her and bring her wherever I needed her to go.   But Mr. Luke is keeping his hearing pretty well; I am rarely able to pass by without him waking. 

I hate that my movements cause Luke to get up and follow.  Of course I love that my dogs feel the need to be near.  Both Luke and Elsa are very close follower types.  Tilley and Jessie were not as panicked followers; my boy before Luke (Clyde) was.  Most of my dogs have been followers; some more than others.  I have never in all my years of living with dogs; had a dog that didn't care where I was.  With Luke being a close kind of guy; it is important for him to be where I am.  Elsa is even worse than Luke; she needs to be inches from me, whereas Luke is good with a few feet.  

Luke's worst age issue is by far his back legs.  They give him grief daily and in the morning they are at their low as far as strength goes.  The longer he is down the harder it is to get up.  But being 14, he needs to sleep; and I would like to allow him to do that in long sessions. but I move around a lot.  Moving means that Luke is following.  He has even changed his position in the living room so that I cannot come or go without him knowing.  He is now lying right in the middle of the walkway from one room to another.  There he has full view of the front door, stairs going down and up and the family room.  So he's got me covered.

Just this morning I tried my hardest to tip toe past, but nope.  He awakened and I quickly set my hand on him; telling him to "wait, I'll be right back."  He has started waiting when I tell him to.  But I only have a small time frame to get back in sight.  He knows that when I say "I'll be right back," that I will indeed be back.  

On one hand the following is a good way for him to keep moving.  He still follows me up and down the stairs; although I am always behind him going up and in front of him going down.  He has a difficult time on walks so they are very short; at least his moving about during the day does keep him mobile.  Although I really wish that he could sleep for longer periods of time without waking.  I am lucky in that he is a good sleeper and pretty much is asleep as soon as his head his the pillow.  I just hope that Elsa can sleep well when she grows old; that one always has one eye open, ready at a moments notice.  

For now I try to bring my water, snacks, phone, camera etc up to the office with me so that I can sit for while.  This lets Luke sleep interrupted.  As long as I stay put, he stays put and asleep.  There truly is nothing like an old dog.  

A gift of time, giving yourself.

Yesterday Luke, Elsa and I hit a favorite park of mine here in OR.  It is very rural and quiet; and sits on the edge of the Willamette River.  As I pulled in and glanced toward "our spot," I noticed a car.  "Nuts."  There is a great open space to run the dogs there but it was already taken.  I pulled into a parking spot to wait it out.  After several antsy minutes of checking my rear view mirror I realized that it was going to be a while.  I pulled out of my spot and headed for a more treed area; not the greatest for the chuck it, but doable.  As we passed by the prime grass spot I had a better look at the dog who had taken up "our spot."  He was old, his face grizzled by time and his body degraded by many years.  His owner, who was an elderly man; sat in a small truck beside the dog.  He was sunning his old dog. 

I drove at a snails pace past the two and could not help but "awwwwwwww" to myself.  This man was giving his very old dog time; just time to spend soaking up the glorious sun that had appeared on a very chilly morning.  We pulled up to our destination which was not so far from the old dog and his man.  I kept a close eye on the dog as we were going off leash.  The old dog did notice us and seemed to have some great interest.  He struggled to his feet and positioned himself where he could watch Elsa and her antics.  After watching him move to a better place I realized that he was not going to be coming any closer.  It seemed to take everything he had just to turn around so he could watch us. 

I watched him watching us for a long while.  Both Luke and Elsa had noticed him but gave him no mind as he just lay there.  Elsa was too interested in her ball and Luke himself, is in that glorious "golden years" stage; when all he cares about are the good things in life.  The old dog that lay watching Luke and Elsa seemed to be maybe a hunting type mix.  He was mostly white with black splotches; perhaps he had been much darker in his younger years.  I thought about those younger years; him spending hours there at the park running, maybe swimming and chasing a ball.  But now the years had caught up with him and he had only enough energy to switch positions a couple of times. 

Not long after we started our fun in the forest; I saw the dog get up and move towards the truck that sat literally three feet away.  He moved slower than I've seen a dog move in a long time.  The man got out of the truck and stroked his dog's head and they shared a moment.  Seeing that they were leaving, I called to Luke and Elsa that we were moving on.  As I hoisted Luke into the car I watch the man and his old dog pull away.  He was rubbing his dog's head as if to say "there you go, how was that?"  The bond between the two was quite obvious and without ever speaking to him I could tell how much he loved his dog.  He was there for his dog; not for himself, no, just his dog.  But in giving this sunning moment to his dog; he most definitely gave to himself.  He awarded himself with the very special gift of giving.  Giving to someone else for the very selfless act of just giving. 

I had my camera with me and wanted so badly to go and talk to the man and his dog.  But I knew if I went over that I would be interrupting a very special moment.  Witnessing their time spent together from afar was enough and surely made me smile.  It truly is the little things, isn't it?  At this time of year, giving is the general theme.  It is so heartwarming to see people give of themselves; not a material gift, not money or anything that cost money; a gift of time itself, their time.  Not only did that man share a gift with his dog; but it was unknowingly shared with me as well.  A very nice gift indeed. 

National Adopt A Senior Month

November is National Adopt A Senior Month.  Would you consider adopting a senior?  Honestly, how sad is the fact that senior dogs need adopting?   There are many different ways that a senior dog can end up in need of a new home. 

1.  Owner has died and no family member steps up to give the senior a home.

- This is extremely sad.  Of course just because we want a dog or dogs; does not mean that any of our family members want them.  Yes, it is amazing when a family member steps up to give a family members dog a home but it does not always happen.  I have heard of many stories where family members have told an owner that they would take their dog if anything happened; but when the times comes, they do not.  That my friends is one of the saddest acts. 

2.  Owner decides that a senior is too much work.  I cannot imagine this; my mind just cannot grasp the idea.  Dogs give us so much throughout their lives and as they start to slow and need more care we dump them?  Yes there is more to caring for an old dog but when you love a dog, it is not work but the loving act of care. 

3.  Medical costs.  This is a sad one.  Many people when faced with a big vet bill of an old dog; opt to rehome a dog.  There are options and ways to pay for the high cost of medical treatment.

4.  Moving...sometimes people move and feel that they cannot take their old dog with them.  Of course this happens with young dogs as well.  Look harder and find a place that will take your canine family member. 

Old dogs have a very difficult time being rehomed.  There are not many people that want to take on the task of caring for a dog in their senior years.  Having lost two very old girls a year and a half ago, I know all too well how much extra care they need.  But never for a moment did I consider it to be work; it was just what you do when they need you.  Now Luke needs more care; his body is slowing down and he needs time, an extra hoist now and again and patience. 

Patience, this is what old dogs need.  There is nothing more important than understanding when an old dog is slowing down and incapable of doing what they use to do.  Old dogs are easy in the sense that they don't need a ton of exercise or training.  They simply need a comfy spot to rest their head and body (very important, just try lying on the floor for a night), good food and a loving caregiver. 

Caring for an older dog, whether it is your older dog or a newly adopted one is all about giving back.  I remember watching Tilley sleep so soundly that I could come and go unnoticed.  It made me happy that she felt comfortable and safe enough to do this with no concern. 

Some great senior links below.

Sanctuary for Seniors

Old dog haven

The senior dog project

Of course there needs to be care when placing an old dog.  If a perspective adopter has other dogs, they must be matched for everyone to be happy.  Most old dogs mellow with age, I know all of my dogs have. 

Consider opening your home and heart to a forgotten senior?