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Old 06-19-2012, 07:59 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy How to deal with knowing he's getting older?

So I have a 12 year old American Eskimo, had him for 11 years since I was 8. He's my best friend and I always call him my guardian angel since he's been there for me through everything.
Yesterday it just hit me. I went hiking with him and Sawyer (which I do almost everyday) and noticed he wasn't running around like he normally does. By the end of it he was even limping! The vets were closed so I had to wait overnight and hope he got over it, but still in the morning he was all stiff. After work I finally went there and got him some meds for it, but it completely terrified me.
I mean obviously he's going to die one day, but for me I just always felt like he's gonna live forever since he has for basically my whole life.
He's starting to go a bit blind, but the arthritis is what freaked me out most.
Obviously I hope he lives for many more years, but it's clear his age is starting to show. I started crying last night and even now, just thinking of life without him. I don't know what I would do! How do I accept the fact that he's 12, and its normal for him to start showing his age? I'm so scared that one day I'll wake up to him lying dead on my bed next to me or something. I know I should just "enjoy him while I can" but I really am just so scared of life without him. How do you guys cope with realizing that your dog is getting older, and you know he won't "last forever"?
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Old 06-19-2012, 09:06 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Personally, I try not to think about it too much. My ACD mix Pepper is 14, and yeah she's showing her age. I've decided that I'm not going to think about her passing too much, but rather enjoy every moment I have with her. I feel that if I'm constantly sad/thinking about her passing, she'll pick up on it, and I want her last years to be the best and not spent being sad because mommy is sad. She'd had a rather chaotic life before becoming mine at 8, and I think she deserves the good life now.

As far as the arthritis goes, do you have your baby on a joint supplement? I put Pepper on one a month ago and wow has it made a difference! It doesn't always work for everyone, but it is certainly worth a try. I also give her Dogzymes Ultimate supplement by Nature's Farmacy, which has a lot of vitamins, minerals, and oils (fish and coconut i believe) for omegas in it. It's improved her coat and probably helps with arthritis as well.
HTH!
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Old 06-19-2012, 11:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Mom24doggies is right, Piko will pick up on your anxiety. I know it's difficult, but try to just enjoy the time you have with him. Worrying about it will not stop the inevitable, but will ruin the time you have left with him.

Spoil him a bit more, take lots of pictures (you'll need them someday), give him his good healthy diet and suppliments and then treat him with his favorite junk food treats. Spend some special one on one time with him and thank him for being there for you. Tell him funny stories of times you've had together. I hoping to try to help you change the way your emotions are going so maybe you'll relax and enjoy your time with him.

and, when the inevitable does happen, do not let the idiots that say 'he was just a dog' get you down. He is a special friend, a family member, a piece of your heart and your Guardian Angel - and he always will be. It'll be terrible and your heart will break, but, because he is a part of your heart, it will heal and be stronger than before.

Smile at him and hug him for me, please. Hang in there, we are here for you both and we all understand.
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Old 06-20-2012, 12:08 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Facing the loss of those we love is just about the hardest thing in life. But the alternative is never to love, never to connect, never to have the joy of friendship and companionship.

I cope by making my animals a promise: I will do my best to make their lives happy and complete, filled with all the things they value most and free of pain and fear. And if the time comes that the pain and the fear become overwhelming, I promise them that I will put their needs before mine and give them an easy passing, no matter how much it hurts me. As a dog gets older, every day is a gift, to be shared and enjoyed as best we can. When long walks become difficult, we can share time sprawled in the garden or on a sofa; joint supplements and a new bed may help with creaky bones; a gentle massage may take the place of wild games.

In spirit he is still your Guardian Angel - he has helped to raise you into the young adult you now are. That love will always be with you, no matter what happens in the future. Enjoy these gentle, twilight years together - and the knowledge that you did everything possible to make each day a happy one for him will help when the day inevitably comes when you have to say goodbye. I hope that it is still many years away.
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Old 06-20-2012, 03:01 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Great advice here. I understand, I have a 16 year old shih tuz... I am so thankful that I went ahead and got Carley. I think it is so much worst when your house suddenly goes silent.
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Old 06-20-2012, 05:59 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I totally agree with everything people have said here. When my mini poodle, Rusty, was 16, our vet told us he had congestive heart failure, and put him on medication for it. It was the first time I really knew that, one day, Rusty wouldn't be with me anymore. It was really, really difficult. However, it also gave me reason to reconsider my everyday interactions with him. Instead of sometimes feeling like it was an inconvenience to leave work at lunch to let him out, I started to place more importance on those lunchtime visits. I paid attention to the cuddles we had on the sofa, and how it felt to scritch his ears, and the feeling of him nuzzling his little nose into the crook of my arm. (Remembering these things now makes me tear up about it). Basically, although I'd always valued Rusty's company and our activities, a true realisation that he was getting old made me pay attention to those special (and run of the mill) things even more. After losing him at 17.5, I'm glad, in a way, that I had an awareness of the fact that his time was coming, because I could make sure that there wasn't anything I wish I would have done differently, or more of. So, my thoughts are that it's okay to be sad about your dog's ageing process sometimes, but to make sure you pay even more attention to the happy things. Celebrate small things... zoomies, kisses, snuggles, funny moments, taking time away from making dinner to play if your dog's in the mood for it. And take videos of those funny moments if you can!

Also, if you already haven't, maybe talk to your vet about pain management medications for arthritis... they can make a huge difference in your dog's behaviour. Glucosamine & chondroitin are great supplements, too. We also used a product called Ortho Eyes 3 - 4 times a day for Rusty's cataracts... there's no real proof that it cures anything, although studies suggest it may help break up cataracts, and we (and our vet) noticed that Rusty's eyes were clearer after a few months of using it, and I truly believe that those eye drops are what preserved the sight he had remaining for the last year or two and made sure he could see us, see objects, etc. It may be worth your time to research it (the carnisine ingredient is the important one... can't remember the exact name at the moment).

And, to be honest, we did find some humour in Rusty's old age. When he was having a particularly good nap in the sun, sometimes we'd look at each other and ask, "Is he breathing??" (with the half serious thought that if he passed away while napping in the sun, we should all really be so lucky). We called his antisocial dog park moments his "grumpy old man" times. He had funny "old person" moments that were just another part of his life, and I think it kind of helped to acknowledge those funny bits (it helped not be sad about them).

Oh, and above all else, I spent the last several years of Rusty's life refusing to read books or watch movies where the dog dies in the end! Only happy endings for us!
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Old 06-20-2012, 05:15 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks guys, I guess I'm normally fine, then one day it hits or something, and I cry it out but the next day its fine again. The vet prescribed previcox, to give once a day. so this morning after I gave it I was hoping I'd see a difference once I got home from work. And boy did I! He came jumping up to greet me, and was even trying to get Sawyer to play! Normally Sawyer just bugs him until Piko attacks him playfully once, then gets mad at him. but he wouldn't stop! I was so excited! We even went for a hike. I was nervous the medication would wear out so I let them both offleash (no one was there) so Sawyer could run around and get all his energy out, and Piko could walk my pace. That wasn't the case... he was running around the whole time! I was soooooo excited! =D

And yes, I got Sawyer because I'd never be able to handle anything ever happening without a dog to hug. I was hoping for the next few years Piko would train him to take over the "therapy job" for him, so far no luck lol. Sawyer is just a totally different personality. But he's also a puppy so maybe he'll eventually mature into a wonderful comforter...
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Old 06-20-2012, 06:50 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sawyersmomma View Post

And yes, I got Sawyer because I'd never be able to handle anything ever happening without a dog to hug. I was hoping for the next few years Piko would train him to take over the "therapy job" for him, so far no luck lol. Sawyer is just a totally different personality. But he's also a puppy so maybe he'll eventually mature into a wonderful comforter...
You will probably be pleasantly surprised by how much Sawyer does learn from Piko. You may not see the similarities while Piko is still active and able but I would be willing to bet that Sawyer will step up when the time comes and be exactly what you need. You will be able to look back and say "Piko taught him that" and it will be a true comfort to you.

Until then, do try to enjoy Piko and the time you have together...I treasure the last six weeks I had with Dezi (my aussie) before I lost him to Cancer. He was not particularly good with children so after my babies were born (they are now 4) we did not get to spend the quality time together that I would have liked, he was always well cared for but it is hard to take a big hairy dog and two babies in the car together and have a "good time"...but after he got sick I made a point to really spoil him and spend as much time with him as I could and I really remembered all over again why I fell so in love with him in the first place....he was such a sweet goofy boy! Remember a few extra treats here & there and a little extra snuggle time won't hurt anything and you certainly won't regret it later!!
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Old 06-20-2012, 08:39 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I definitely try Too bad he doesn't like actually sleeping on my bed, then I'd snuggle him all night lol but we spend a lot of time cuddling, and I definitely plan on doing as much with him as I possibly can.
I'm also really trying to notice all his goofy habits. Just so they'll stand out in my mind. Like how whenever he eats, he fills his mouth with the kibble, then has to walk in front of our family before chewing, just so everyone notices him eating. He'll do it over and over
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Old 06-23-2012, 05:43 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I know this sounds a bit morbid, or even just plain crazy, but when we knew it was time for our old dog, Trapper, who was a chow/golden mix, we called the vet and set a date for a couple of days out, then we called our friends and family who loved him, including the groomer, and told them that it was time, and invited them all to come and say their goodbye's. We had a farewell dinner the night before, and gave him his own plate, with chicken and whatever else we were having that night. Sure, it was sad, but it was also a great gift to all of us.

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