By Katy Cable, TWR
A 3 min. read
This is a painful blog to write but an important one.
My story begins while waiting for a job interview at a high-kill shelter. It was a position I was excited about and thought I stood a good chance at landing! As I paced the lobby, I watched what I thought was perspective dog owners walking potential new family members around the courtyard. What I witnessed next still brings me to tears as I write this.
A well-dressed couple arrived in a luxury car that cost more than most homes. They emerged wearing designer clothing from head to tippy-toe carrying a senior dog also outfitted in “canine couture.” As they approached the reception window I overheard them say, “We’re moving and can’t take the dog. She’s gotten too old.”
The woman working at the shelter “intake” window asked for a fee to relinquish the dog and said this was an overcrowded, high-kill shelter. Due to the dog’s age, the chances of her being adopted were slim to none.
The couple was completely unaffected hearing of their dog’s certain fate and couldn’t discard this precious pooch fast enough. They tossed both the dog and a wad of cash through the window without a second of remorse. -Or so much as a pat goodbye.
Hearing that heartbroken dog howl and whine as she was abandoned, is a scene I will never be able to erase from my mind. I couldn’t hold back my tears listening to a stereo of crying dogs in cages. I realized that all the dogs I’d seen in the courtyard that afternoon were not adoption candidates but were actually being relinquished. I knew right then and there I couldn’t work in this environment.
We live in an “out with the old, in with the new” culture. We value shiny, new things and quickly replace anything the minute an UPGRADE or newer version hits the market. We’re all too interested in what’s trending with “millennials” yet disregard all the experience and wisdom held by those eligible for “Medicare.” And the same holds true with our dogs.
Nothing is more heartbreaking than seeing so many people surrendering older dogs. For some, it's the mounting medical expenses. For others it's the care they need. And, tragically, sometimes it’s the simple fact that the pet is now just too old. Whatever the case, that loyal companion that always had your back, loved and adored you, now needs your care and attention more than ever!
As a dog ages, their sole purpose becomes being your faithful companion. (Pugs in particular are bred for that sole reason.) Providing unconditional love is what they DO! Having nobody to love compromises their immune systems terribly. -As our shelters and rescue groups see all too often.
I realize I’m singing to the choir! The fact you’re reading this blog tells me you would sever your own arm before discarding your aging pet. But there’s so much more that can be done. Here’s how you can help.
❤️Let’s be advocates for adopting senior pets and start promoting all the advantages❤️
1. Shelters and rescues charge far less for senior pets and those with special needs.
2. With some pets considered “senior” at only 5-6 years old, many “older” pets can still live long, happy lives.
3. Most older pets are already well trained and know commands. However, you can definitely teach “old dogs new tricks” and can still train them later in their life.
4. Senior pets are quite capable of transferring affection and you’ll be regarded as their hero.
5. Older pets are quite content with a slower-paced, simple lifestyle. They don’t have the same energy levels or require nearly as much exercise.
If you’re considering adopting an older pet or if you currently have one that’s “getting up there”, here are a few helpful tips:
1. Pets age as quickly as Hollywood ingenues: about 7 dog years to 1 human year. It’s important to have more frequent vet checks. This way you can hopefully catch any problem while it’s less risky and expen$ive. Your vet can also be helpful in recommending supplements and medications to ease issues and give your pet a good quality of life.
2. Dogs thrive on familiarity and routine. Any change to this can be a huge stressor. Don’t make your dog age even quicker by adding more stress to their life. For instance, when planning your vacation, it’s perhaps better to leave your dog home with a trusted familiar pet-sitter rather than put them through the stress of travel. Do your best to keep their familiar routine.
3. Keep things accessible. Be mindful of stairs, slippery floors, and other hard to navigate surfaces. Keep food, water and potty areas in well lit, easily accessible places. Be mindful of re-arranging the house and moving everything around. This will be stressful for your dog, especially as their senses decline.
4. Don’t neglect dental care! It all starts in the mouth. Billions of bacteria can flood into the bloodstream and attack every organ in your dog’s body. Don’t forget to have their teeth checked and cleaned and if you’re not doing it already: BRUSH THEIR CHOPPERS! It’s not too late to start.
5. Senior/mature dogs have different dietary needs than a growing or more active dog. As dogs age, their sense of smell and taste diminish. Teeth can be sensitive (or, in the case of many pugs, -GONE!) Your once happy eater may become bored with current food. Now may be a good time to switch from dry kibble to canned, fresh, and/or raw foods. At the very least, try switching to a less carby, senior or mature formula of food and READ THOSE INGREDIENTS! (See video below for tips and discuss options with your vet.)
6. Exercise is important but modify activity. Those all day hikes and 5 mile runs along the beach, may need to be replaced with a slow walk (possibly with your dog in a stroller or wagon) and some play in a pool. However, it’s crucial to keep your dog moving. Try using CBD* and other natural supplements for muscle pain relief.
7. Know the signs of pain. Dogs are stoic. By nature they don’t want to appear vulnerable to predators and they can endure ungodly amounts of pain without you having the first clue something’s wrong. Here’s a few possible indicators that your dog may be in pain:
*Be mindful of any changes in their eating, sleeping, activity, peeing and pooping routines.
*No enjoyment from treats, play or other pleasures.
*Your dog has begun isolating.
*Your normally tame dog has acted aggressively. They may try to bite or growl to avoid being touched if in pain.
*Limping or favoring one side or area of their body.
*Shivering, drooling, panting, when it’s not particularly hot or cold.
*Yelping or whimpering when moving or touched.
**Listen to your GUT! If you feel something isn’t right don’t delay! Get them checked! Nobody EVER said, “Gee, I Wish I’d waited longer to get my dog in to the vet!”
I've been privileged to watch a few pugs go from young puppies to ripe-old seniors and there’s something extra special about older dogs. Just like an infant they’re totally reliant on you for their care. And while giving to them, you will be the one to receive the most precious gift in life. You will see and feel unconditional love in action. Your heart will expand. You will become a much more humble compassionate person. You will become a hero. For while you’re just one person in this great big world, to your dog, you ARE the entire world and YOU make their life worth living. ❤️
Dedicated to all those who have loved and cared for wise-old dogs!
*To learn more about CBD/to order click here: www.weeklyrunt.com/blog/cbd-re-leafweeding-thru-the-hype
🐾Katy Cable is a former actress appearing in “Back To The Future” and starring in the TV series: “Safe At Home” & “ Fired Up!” In addition to her dog health & lifestyle blog/vlog: The Weekly Runt, (https://www.weeklyrunt.com/) she’s a contributing writer to numerous publications including Thrive Global, & The Huffington Post. Cable lives at the beach with her husband, Rick and her rescue Pug, Olive.🐾