Slowing down with my four legged friend

It’s not just us that grows a little older and a little creakier. The fluffier members of our families are along for the ride too. Sue Kittow takes a look at a day in the life of two (slightly more) mature ladies…

MollieDog is 12 now, so she’s content to lie and snooze for much of the day. As she has grown older, she’s grown less interested in other dogs but more interested in people. She still loves walks, but is less enthusiastic in the wet weather we’ve been having for weeks now – me too.

A typical day in the life of Moll goes thus: I get up, shower, breakfast while madam lies on (not in) the bed. As soon as she hears my electric toothbrush, she jumps off the bed and hangs around the bathroom till I’ve finished. Then she escorts me to the door, waits for me to put her lead on, and we head outside for a round-the-block-walk, which takes about 20-30 minutes, depending on what the weather’s like, how energetic we both feel and who we meet en route.

We stroll and admire the view – living by the sea there’s always something going on, two mature ladies enjoying the morning views.

Nowadays she sniffs and wees a lot and, being a terrier, eats anything she can. We stroll and admire the view – living by the sea there’s always something going on, and along our walk this morning we notice miniature purple irises, shy primroses, some early butter yellow celandines and sunny daffodils to cheer us up. We trot along, two mature ladies enjoying the morning views.

When we get home, I make tea, and she knows it’s time for another snooze while I work unless the postie Fiona comes, who will have biscuits tucked into her shorts. Or a friend turns up, in which case Moll barks volubly and at length so the entire street knows we have company.

Moll knows our regular haunts: in fact she turns off to the cafe in question before we do, where there’s the anticipation of Food, and the Fixed Look (directed at my friend).

The afternoon walk, often with friends or the Man (my boyfriend), is a longer and much more exciting affair. All dogs need stimulation, but as dogs age this is increasingly important, and the Man is good at teasing her, provoking her into chasing and running like a puppy, and it’s a joy to see her exuberance. On long walks we sometimes stop for coffee, and Moll knows our regular haunts: in fact she turns off to the cafe in question before we do. Then there’s the anticipation of Food (a few crumbs maybe) and the Fixed Look directed at my friend (she knows better than to beg from me).

 

But we have our off days. When I had ‘flu recently, it was all I could do to take her on a very short round the block before collapsing back into bed, but Moll seemed to understand. My priority, when friends weren’t able to walk MollieDog, was to drag myself out of bed in the late afternoon and drive to a large, overgrown churchyard nearby where she could chase squirrels up trees while I staggered around, actually feeling better for some fresh air. I then collapsed back into bed, but there’s nothing like the comfort of a warm body next to you to cheer up even ‘flu. Some time ago, I wrenched my shoulder which made walking her on the lead difficult. But a quick ‘Wait’ from me was all it took – she instantly knew not to pull.

Yesterday we went to meet friends for a six mile walk, and I must say, I wasn’t feeling very inspired (nor was Moll). I was tired; it was raining, as it has been for weeks now, so everywhere is muddy and incredibly slippery. I perked up with company, but Moll hates the damp and wet, and she plodded through the six miles of muddy puddles with a We Are Not Amused expression. As a friend said the other day, “she doesn’t need to speak, does she?”

Moll hates the damp and wet, and she plodded through the six miles of muddy puddles with a We Are Not Amused expression.

Life was not improved for her by having to surrender to a shower on our return home. While Moll is happy to swim, she hates enforced wetness, and growls like a good ‘un at the prospect. Still, at least she knows she gets fed at the end of it all, and then we curled up in front of the telly, the two of us snuggled up together for a glass of wine and a DVD. Sometimes – oh the excitement – it’s a trip to the pub where they have dog biscuits. Or an adventure for one of my walks books – featuring Moll of course.

We should all take a tip from dogs and make the most of every moment. And just to prove that an old dog can new tricks, her latest feat is to sneak into the kitchen, jump onto the kitchen table, leap onto the dresser, walk along a narrow ridge and eat the cat’s food. Not bad for an 84 year old…

9 Top Tips for living with an older dog

  1. Regular mild to moderate exercise
  2. Frequent medical check ups to detect any problems
  3. Check for gum disease
  4. If a dog loses vision and hearing, make the surroundings familiar and secure
  5. Soft bedding can help arthritic dogs and make them for comfortable
  6. Elevate food and water bowls if necessary
  7. Mental stimulation is very important
  8. Watch the dog’s weight and adjust diet accordingly
  9. Patience, love and understanding are necessary to make any adjustments needed, which will all help make your dog’s older years happier and healthier. Yours too.

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Sue Kittow

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