No words, just pictures and her theme song, because once she was rescued, she was free and feeling good!
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 love you Annie, you make every day a wonderful day. We will plan a HUGE celebration for your 12th birthday in June!
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.
Yesterday, I had a post ready to go. The working title was It’s official, Annie is a city dog!
I was snapping some pictures to add to my post when I realized that perhaps things are different from what I originally thought.
The theme of the story was that Annie grew up and lived in the country before she came to live with us. Unfortunately, for most of her life, it wasn’t the idyllic existence that one would think of for a country dog. She and many other dogs lived in rural Michigan in an area without an animal warden. Care and conditions were terrible and there wasn’t anyone around to inspect or enforce violations. Once she got into foster care, she was exposed to a wonderful country life with open land to explore, a pack of 6 other dogs to play and bond with as well as love, affection, vet care and regular feedings from a wonderful family.
Transitioning to our city life took her a while but she has embraced it. We have a nice sized fenced yard and we are a couple of blocks from a bustling downtown with restaurants, shops, bakeries and coffee shops. Walk a few blocks in a different direction and we are on the shores of Lake Michigan. Annie loves our walks, whichever route we may take although she is always cautious and alert when we are passing strangers along the way.Annie’s favorite place is our backyard. She has learned how to let herself out and will come and go to her heart’s content. We have 3 huge, old oak trees that provide lots of shade and she is perfectly happy to lay at the top of the deck stairs or curl up in her favorite dirt hole and sniff the air before falling into a deep, contented sleep. We have plenty of small animals that enter our yard including bunnies, squirrels, chipmunks, possums and occasionally a skunk or raccoon. She has never paid attention to any of them nor has she exhibited a prey drive.Imagine my horror when I opened the door Monday to let everyone inside before I left the house to run some errands and there stood Annie with a floppy, bloody, dead rat in her mouth. Yes, a rat. The most vile creature ever to walk the planet. Living near restaurants and water means that there are also rats in the area but until this summer I have been blissfully unaware of whatever may be lurking on the other side of our fence.
Two things happened this summer to encourage this invasion into our yard. First, two houses away, a dilapidated, dark and unused garage was torn down to make way for a new, modern garage with an upstairs apartment. There were rumors that rats had taken up residence there but I never saw them so I chose to pretend that they didn’t exist. Second, we replaced our fence and gate shortly before we picked up Winn. Our old gate brushed against the sidewalk, the new gate has a pretty large gap between the sidewalk and the bottom of the gate which would allow small animals easy access to the yard.We started to suspect that a rat or two (I know, you see one rat and you actually have many more) were wandering into our yard about a month ago. Maisie loves to play with all creatures big and small and has been spending a lot of time sniffing and pacing in the bushes along our fence line with Winn hot on her trail. Annie has ignored all of their excitement.
When I shrieked at Annie to drop the rat, and she did, Winn was right there eager to pick it up. Fortunately she responded well to my hysteria and also dropped the rat and everyone ran inside avoiding my attempts to grab their collars to hurry along the process.
Once I caught my breath, I couldn’t help but wonder who had killed the rat? Maisie has picked up lots of small critters but has never killed them. She wants to love and play with them. Annie doesn’t have any front teeth and has never shown any interest in chasing or catching them. Winn is interested in everything and while she did drop a baby bunny when I told her to, she wasn’t allowed the time to figure out what the natural next step might be. Had she done it when I wasn’t around to stop her?I was betting on Winn but then, when I let them out later Annie was the one that was running around excitedly sniffing the bushes, around the planters and all along the fence line. It seemed that she was the one that had scored the rat and was very proud of herself. She had officially become a city girl by catching a city rat.The next day, I had my camera ready when Annie and Winn gathered together and were sniffing around the same spot. I thought it was cute and stood away from them snapping pictures when I began to get suspicious. The were very curious about something in the dirt but so far, their mouths were empty. I called them away and as they both came toward me, I was able to catch a glimpse of four small feet sticking out from under a plant close to the sidewalk. Good grief, another one! Upon closer inspection, I could tell that it was a squirrel. I had more questions because neither one of them wanted to pick it up, they just looked at it, looked at each other and then looked at it some more. Were they leaving it alone to avoid more shrieking?
My new working theory is that there is a predator cat in the alley and these maimed creatures are making a quick escape into our yard by squeezing under the gate. Then again, the squirrel could have just fallen out of the tree. I’ve seen that happen before…