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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Old Dogs. The Pluses and Minuses.




I have never had a puppy.  All my dogs came to me as older (or middle-aged) adults, along with all their mountains of doggy baggage.  I have recently been going through a roller coaster of health issues with Bernice, which is why I have been mostly absent from my blog (and why I gave you the lame banty post yesterday).  On Sunday, Bernice was herself.  On Monday, she was a disconnected, stumbling, incontinent, frail dog that I barely recognized.  She wouldn't eat or drink.  She couldn't focus.  It was terrifying, heart-breaking and sleep-depriving.  Also, expensive.  I am lucky that I have finally found a wonderful vet and I hope he keeps practicing until we're both too old to have pets.  In my case, that would be well into the 100s.  I am a glutton for punishment.  This morning, Bernice finally ate something.  Cat food.  She turned away from the sauteed ground round, ground chuck, simmered organic chicken with broth.  What turned her around this morning was a small tin of Tuna & Whitefish glop.  Sigh.  Like most parents, my children prefer McDs.

Bernice is in the records as "Approx 11/Unknown".  When I adopted her, I was told she was four.  I have found that "four" is the standard age of any adult dog whose history is a mystery.  The vet I had when I adopted her thought she could be as old as eight.  So, Bernice is either 11 or 15.  I am guessing that she's closer to 15.  She came to me a bundle of nerves and anxiety.  She is, after 7 years in my care, a slightly better bundle of nerves and anxiety.  But she is all mine and I love her with all my heart.

So, why would I adopt a dog when there was a pretty good chance our time together would be limited?  When there was a pretty good chance that the ensuing vet bills would keep me in debt and brown bag lunches?  Because I firmly believe that every single old, stray, abandoned, abused, misused, unloved dog (cat, goat, sheep, llama, elephant, platypus) deserves a chance to experience a loving home.  Even if it's for a year.  Or even less.   The pure joy they experience (and you by default) as they come to realize that this - this place with the comfy furniture, soft beds, long walks, good food, and all the love they can handle - is now their reality.  It is all for them.  It's worth the Doggy Depends. 

So I will happily feed her Fancy Feast Tuna & Whitefish three times a day - with a spoon, if necessary.  We are not out of the woods yet, and there is still my 'youngster', Scrappy (13) to consider but, we oldsters have to stick together.





21 comments:

  1. If you run low on money to buy Fancy Feast Tuna & Whitefish, I'm sure there are plenty of us who will be more than willing to donate to the Keep Bernie Eating Fund. Just say the word.

    You are such a good, kind, caring, loving, wonderful person. (Will you take care of me in my old age?)

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    1. Mama Pea - In a heartbeat... :) xxx

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  2. It's hard to watch our pets age faster than we do, wonder if you mix some of the cat food with her food if she would go for it, save a little money in the long run, not much in those little cans. Wonder if she will start to meow instead of bark, I'll bet she is purring from all your attention.

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    1. TL - True. I think they should live as long as we do. It would be nice to have the same dog throughout your whole life. I am going to do that tonight. She didn't purr, but she gave me a head-butt. :)

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  3. I totally agree. All my dogs were age unknown when I got them. Some I only had a year to two but that dog knew I loved them and I knew they loved me.

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    1. Penny - At least there aren't too many surprises with an older dog. You get what you get. And there is something totally lovable about a senior citizen dog.

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  4. Good for you Susan! I agree that they ALL deserve to know some love and kindness in their lives. I wonder if Bernice had a stroke? I'm glad she is eating something, that is hopeful.

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    1. Candy - I am SO glad she perked up. I hope I find her in the same condition when I get home. I asked the vet about a stroke, but he did not think that was the problem. She showed signs of a bacterial infection, so we are treating that and going from there. I hope it's that easy.

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  5. Jackson isn't feeling well today, and we have an old horse down in the barn that we will have to say good-bye to very soon. It is so very hard on our hearts when we can't "fix" all the things that ail these creatures, who depend on us and love us unconditionally as no human ever could....

    Try to ease her over to something else if at all possible, because the nutritional make-up of cat food tends to give dogs pancreatitis.

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    1. Michelle - If only they could tell us what's wrong. Not to worry - the cat food was a last resort this morning. I picked up canned dog food on the way to work. I never knew there were so many kinds of canned dog food! Too bad they didn't have 'cheeseburger', as I think she would love that.

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  6. Sending good-doggie-vibes your way. Maybe I can even get the cats to send some well wishing. Doubtful, but who knows.
    Hugs to Bernice.

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    1. Carolyn - Tell Black Susan she owes me... :)

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  7. Sure do hope your dear Bernice is better every hour. Yes, aging pets are tough but the rewards we receive are many. Our last dog made it to 15 1/2 years old. He and I had a very small life during his last couple of his years. --- I am with Mama Pea -- since you will already be taking care of her..., I hope I find someone as wonderfully kind as you when I am elderly!!

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    1. Heck, come to Michigan when you're old and gray---I'll put you to work peeling apples. We'll have way to many laughs...and I promise lots of kibble-Ha!
      :D

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    2. Sue - You be sure to soak that kibble, honey. We'll be down to gums by then, by-cracky. :)

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    3. And I don't know WHERE my comment went on this post.
      Mystery!!
      Wish the electric bill would disappear like that!!

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  8. beautifully expressed
    yes, they all deserve a loving home
    if only for a awhile

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  9. What a cute photo and what a heartbreak when Bernice doesn't feel well. Some animals deserve the care and devotion. I don't mean any of them should be unkindly treated, but some just deserve the extra mile.

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  10. Sweet little girl. Bless you for taking in older pets. We've always adopted adult pets, as many people won't take them. Our beloved Anya cat was also "4" years old :) Now she's 6, maybe!

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