Having a puppy reminds me of the years when my kids were little and we counted their age progression in months. 3 mos., 8 mos., 17 mos., etc.
Winn turned 9 mos. this week and as fun as is to watch her grow and change, I am also reminded that Annie continues to age as well. She has a few more grey hairs on her muzzle and is having a slow recovery from recent oral surgery. Aside from those two reminders, she still acts like the Annie that I know.
Every morning she runs to the back door with an urgency and expression that says, “outta my way, I gotta pee!” and I smile as I watch her quickly go down the stairs and run around the yard looking for the perfect spot to relieve herself.
She sleeps a lot and I love watching her snuggle up in her bed as she snores away the afternoon. When she is waking up, she will rub her face and head all over her bed, groan, snort, and roll around.
Her stomach is her time clock. She gets restless and lets me know with an elbow nudge, a bark or a stare when she thinks I should be in kitchen preparing her meal. Currently, she’s on multiple, small meals which suits her just fine. I think she takes great pleasure in getting fed more times than other two! (Of course they get a little smackerel while she’s occupied with her bowl.)
Since it is recommended that senior dogs get twice yearly health checks, I think it’s only fair that they should have twice yearly birthday celebrations. Yesterday Annie turned 11 1/2!
I decided not to put on birthday hats, instead I tied a big red ribbon on each of them. I froze some vanilla yogurt in my cupcake mold and brought them out after dinner. They were a big hit! It was such an easy treat to create, and they loved it. They knew something good was coming their way when the camera came out and after they each had one, they chased me into the kitchen for seconds.
We want more!
This is taking too long!
We love you Annie, you make every day a wonderful day. We will plan a HUGE celebration for your 12th birthday in June!
It started about 4 weeks ago, she suddenly was reluctant to go up and down the stairs. A couple of nights she refused altogether and one night she chose to make her way upstairs in the dark well after we had all gone to sleep. We found her curled up outside our bedroom door the next morning and it broke my heart.
She wasn’t showing signs of joint pain so my best guess was that her nails were too long and the stairs felt slippery, and/or her vision was getting worse. It had been a while since her last nail trim because she had been so nervous at her last vet visit I decided to cancel her nail trim. We both braved another vet visit, got her vision checked (she probably does see shadows in her peripheral vision) and her nails trimmed and that seemed to help even though she was still anxious and would attempt the stairs 4 or 5 times before finally charging all the way up.
About a week later, she woke me up with her usual nudge and bark. When I turned on the light she looked like she had a ping-pong ball tucked into her jowl. Shit. I have always worried about her teeth and it appeared she had an abscess, so off to the vet we went. Again, she was incredibly stressed and I had to coax her along as we navigated several stops and starts before I could get her in the exam room.
Sure enough, she needed to have two teeth surgically removed. Her surgery day was the third trip to the vet in 3 weeks and she was not happy about it. She completely put on the brakes and would NOT go through the door leading to the procedure rooms. She’s 115 lbs. and when she decides she’s not going somewhere she means it! I had to lift her back-end and straddle her as we made our way into the hospital area. I don’t usually go back there but the tech that came out to assist us was a male and I just said flat-out, “this is going to make it worse”. Everyone there knows her well and he quickly retreated so that Annie wouldn’t see him as I got her where she needed to be and her regular tech ran forward to greet us and take over for me. She just knew that something big was about to happen.
After her surgery, which took longer that expected–each tooth had 4 roots rather than 3, she refused to go to the recovery room which is further back in the hospital. She would only go forward, towards the exit door. There is an office right there so they set up a bed and that’s where she recovered, getting lots of one on one attention from all of the doctors when they were in between patients. Thank goodness she has doctors that are willing to make special accommodations!
Once I got her back home, she slowly started to show improvement. It took a couple of days for her recover from the anesthesia, and she was on painkillers for few more days but her overall mood was so much better.
In the middle of all of this, I’ve been helping my mom move into her new condo and have moved several furniture pieces that don’t fit in her place into my house. One piece is a steamer trunk that we placed in the front hall by the stairs until we figured out where to put it. A few days ago I pushed it further away from the stairs and that night Annie went upstairs with no hesitation. OMG, I should have known! Annie doesn’t like narrow spaces or new doorways. I had just created a narrow space where there wasn’t one and that was the reason she suddenly wouldn’t go upstairs. Ugh, I feel terrible.
Over the past several days, she’s had trouble keeping her food down. She has a two week post surgery follow-up scheduled and I really don’t want traumatize her again by dragging her in for another appointment in addition to that. She has no other symptoms of distress. Her mood is better than ever, her energy level is back to normal, she is drinking water and her stool is fine. I stopped her painkillers, started feeding her 4 times a day with small meals of Prescription Digestive Care food (still softened as directed for her post oral surgery care), added probiotics because she was also on high powered antibiotics. I consulted with her dr. and she agreed with my treatment and also suggested an antacid to add to her food. If anything changes or gets worse she wants to see us immediately. This regimen seems to be helping, each day her food goes down a little easier so I am hopeful that she will be completely better in a few more days.
Poor Annie, she’s fragile but she’s such a trooper and once again she has shown me that she’s not going to let this get her down. She just would like it if we never went back to the vet again!
November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month and I can say from experience, it’s one of the best thing I’ve ever done!
Annie was 9 1/2 when we brought her home. She had been in foster care for over a year, but her case was extreme. Most senior dogs that are up for adoption don’t have the emotional and behavioral needs she had.
When you adopt a senior pet:
1. You are saving a life!
2. Seniors have been around, they’ve seen a lot and they have a lot of love to give. They are usually calmer and adaptable to new situations.
3. Seniors don’t demand the same level of exercise or entertainment of a younger dog. They are very happy to curl up by your feet and take a nice long nap.
4. They usually have some training, are house broken and aren’t teething so they aren’t shoe destroyers. Seniors are a lot less work than puppies and you probably won’t need to supervise any middle of the night potty breaks!
5. Don’t believe the old saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. It might take a little while, but senior dogs aim to please and are receptive to training. They will learn the “house rules” in order to earn your love and affection.
6. There is no mystery about how big they will be, what they will look like and what their grooming needs will be.
7. Even though your time will be shorter with a senior pet, I have found that I appreciate each day that much more. There is no lifespan guarantee with our pets but knowing Annie is a senior has reminded me that every moment with her is precious. Pets change our lives, they give us so much love and every day is enriched with my sweet, old girl.
I feel so lucky to have Annie in my life, but it’s not always easy. Seniors need more medical care as they age. (Something all pet owners face at some point.) Twice yearly health checks are recommended so one should be prepared for increased veterinary bills compared to those of a younger and middle-aged pet. Their health can change quickly and must be attended to. Annie just developed an abscess in one of her teeth. She needs to have it removed which requires anesthesia. I’m nervous about that but we will have it taken care of and hope all goes well.
If I had to make the decision again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I know our time is limited, but really, our time is limited with all of our pets. I know that I’ve changed her life. She’s living her best years now and she showers me with love. She acts like she appreciates everything we give her and she is so happy, every day. I also know she’s changed our lives and I treasure every moment.
Every time Annie does something remotely “dog like”, I take note.
Behaviors that might seem completely normal and maybe even annoying in other dogs, are behaviors that she is learning. She wouldn’t take a treat from my hand. She wouldn’t come into the same room with me. She wouldn’t go through new doorways. She wouldn’t go upstairs. She wouldn’t voluntarily leave her crate. She wouldn’t leave our yard to go to the car or for a walk. Slowly, as she got more comfortable with us and her new home, she started doing these things. One day at time. Sometimes she would regress, and we would start over, trying to make her comfortable.
She still won’t roll over for a belly rub. She still barks out of fear when someone other than my husband or I walks through the door, even if it’s someone she knows well. She still hides behind me when we are out for a walk and someone is walking towards us.
Imagine my surprise Sunday morning, when I heard a commotion at the front door. Maisie and Winn were crowded together with their tails were wagging and I could tell they either saw someone on the sidewalk or even on the porch that they knew. Annie was in the middle of the living room barking her alarm bark.
I went to the door and my next door neighbor was there. He didn’t ring the bell but when I opened the door, he said one of them was wandering outside in front of his house and he had just brought her back. Winn had recently brought in the paper and maybe I didn’t latch the door all of the way. I was a little surprised, but thanked him for returning the rascal. I figured it was Maisie. As he turned to go down the stairs, he said “it was the dark one”. The dark one! I said, “Annie?”. “Yep”.
I couldn’t believe it! I was cleaning the bathroom when I heard her barking, and that’s when I went around the corner and saw the other two with their wagging tails at the door. Apparently he had returned Annie, she ran inside and then started barking which led the other two to check out whatever was happening. I can not believe she actually left the house and went for a stroll. That is something completely new!
I certainly don’t take it lightly that she got out, but there is a part of me that can’t help but smile because it’s one more little sign that lets me know that she is confident enough in her surroundings that she thought she would go say hello to the neighbor.
Annie and I had a big day today. A day that changes everything!
It was time for her rabies shot so our big date was a trip to the vet. Annie and I have made many of these trips over the last year and 1/2, but this time was very different.
When Annie was surrendered to rescue, the only document that came with her was her 2014 rabies certificate. By the time she came home with us a year later, the rabies tag was long gone and the certificate we received was in pretty rough shape but the story it told was clear to me.
It’s a copy of a fax and is crooked and faded. On multiple occasions I’ve had to pull it out of her file when asked to show proof of vaccination. Each time I pull it out, the anger bubbles up because it is a reminder in black and white of her life before us.
The owner’s name and address belongs to the man that operated the kennel/puppy mill. It’s easy for me to say that even though I’ve never met him, I hate him. Her name is listed as Anne, but “Paris” is written next to it. Why does she have two names? I don’t know. Her age is listed as 7, although she had just had a birthday and was actually 8. Her weight is listed as 00. Record keeping was obviously not a priority with these dogs. There are other notes that are hard to read, but are the vaccinations that she received after she was rescued. At the top are the words Annie Paris, blaze and orange collar. The final glaring bit of information is the list of vaccinations done which only includes 2 things, the one she received that day and another rabies shot she received May 23, 2008!
These are all broad strokes that paint a picture of neglect. After 6 years, what compelled him to seek out a vet to administer a 3 year rabies vaccination? Who knows, but what really bothers me concerns the veterinarian. There is no way he could have examined her and thought that she or any of the other dogs from that kennel were receiving proper care. The conditions they were forced to live in were unsanitary and disgusting. Knowing Annie as I do, they would have had to drag her to him, with her trembling and cowering.
So now, here’s the good news. Annie came to us with a broken spirit on the mend thanks to her rescuers and now she is a completely different dog. She’s happy and loving, she has a spring in her step and a twinkle in her eye. She regularly approaches me and nudges my hand for a scratch behind the ear. She walks on leash beautifully and loves our neighborhood patrols. She comes running when she hears the scoop in the dog food or the word “treat”. She doesn’t hide in her crate anymore but instead sprawls out all over the house, moving around, finding a comfy spot on the cool tile or under my feet or on the rug in the next room. She’s quick to come when I’m having training time with Winn and she will do her two tricks, sit and down, with precision so she can also get treats. She joins me in the kitchen when I’m cooking, confident that she will get a nibble now and then. At the end of every day, we climb the stairs together, I give her her eye drops and then she collapses on her Big Barker bed and lets out a sigh of contentment.
So this time going to the vet was different. Yes, she trembled as we were waiting, it took a lot of gentle coaxing to get her into the room and she wasn’t overly enthused about the attention she was getting but we both eagerly left with a treasure in my hands. I now have a proper certificate with both of our names in print. It is signed by a Dr. who lovingly cares for her and is genuinely invested in her well being. The final reminder of her previous life can go in the trash. We belong to each other, and we have no reason to ever look back again!