Tag Archives: senior dogs

Snow Puppies!

Dogs must be the original “snow bunnies!”  Winter weather conditions are prevailing this Thursday.  It’s snowing, blowing and COLD, ladies and gentlemen, but the dogs act like Disneyland has been delivered as a personal favor to them!  Pouncing, playing, sniffing, sliding, the dogs would stay outside all day — that is, if I was outside with them.  Despite double-gloves, LL Bean boots, flannel-line jeans and multiple layers of sweaters, fleece and a quilted coat, I can only take 10-15 minutes at a time.   The dogs give me disgusted looks when I pack it in — “Wuss!” they seem to say.  I offer to leave them out on their own, but Nooooooo can do.   They follow me inside, heads down;  I must say, they really make me feel guilty.

Of course, dogs have several cold-bearing advantages over mere humans:  a higher body temperature, fur over their entire bodies including the nose (which is one of my “cold spots!”)  Kita’s double-coat is so insulating that snow builds up on her back and she comes inside looking like the abominable snow dog.  I have to brush it off or she’d be soaking wet when it melted!  However, dogs have BARE FEET!

Oh sure, there’s some fur on top of and between their toes, but it’s the unprotected pads that come in contact with the white stuff!  Brrrrr!!!!  Doesn’t seem to phase them, though!  Today, besides Kita (GSD) there are two daycare doggies enjoying the Winter Wonderland.  Both the Chocolate Lab and the Border Collie seem to love the weather as much as Kita does, though neither have her thick coat!

In fact, I’ve noticed that snow seems to bring out most dogs’ frisky side.  They don’t have the same reaction to mere cold.  Many a morning the temp is down in the 30’s and Kita and the other dogs behave no differently than if it were 60 degrees.  Let even a hard frost whiten the ground, and my “senior” Shepherd acts like a puppy!  She frisks and forgets her leash manners.  She gets that GSD, tongue-lolling grin and is extra watchful for something furry to chase!   All the dogs are more inclined to dash about, barking just for the shere joy of existence!

Kita rarely plays with the daycare and boarding dogs anymore.  She calmly watches their antics, but in her majestic maturity declines all requests to join in.  All that changes when the white stuff is around.  Then, it’s Kita bouncing at THEM with little play-bows, then running in a little circle to bounce and bow again.  If they accept her invitation, and bow back, she gallops around the yard, hoping they’ll chase her.   She even indulges in the silly, tucked in the “tail on fire” gait, and might even wrestle a bit.

Dogs seem to find more to sniff at in the snow.  Little rodents move about in tunnels just above the ground, but under the white layers and the dogs love to investigate!  Dogs love digging in snow-drifts, looking up with white beards and eyebrows frosted.   They bite at icicles, plow a furrow with their nose, and make snow doggie-angels.  Kita even likes to slide!  The ground falls a way just behind the house.  Kita flings herself on her back right at the edge of the little hill and wiggles around until her weight takes her over and she slips down about 10 feet.  Then she sits up with a grin, looking at me, like “what a clever girl am I?”

Dogs will do all these things on their own, without any human help.  Too bad they seem to require a human audience.  My 45 minutes in the warm are up!  Time to take to the tundra once again, so the Snow Puppies can have their fun!

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A Difficult Decision

Just saw a FB post from a shelter who received a 12-year-old Lab X  as “an euthanasia request” and that just made my blood boil.  I can’t believe the casual cruelty — giving away a dog simply because she had grown old.  THROWING away an animal that had loved you and your family for a dozen years.  Abandoning a thinking, feelilng being because she wasn’t “good enough” for whatever reason to continue sharing their home. 

I don’t really know WHY these people left the old dog at a shelter, but the posting said there were no obvious medical issues.  The posting said nothing about a family forced into a difficult decision because they had lost their jobs and couldn’t afford a dog.  There was no mention of losing their home and being forced to live somewhere that wouldn’t allow even an old well-behaved dog.  However, because the request came from the people surrendering her to have her put down, I’m going to assume she was given up simply because she was OLD.

When we bring a dog (and most other animals) into our lives, we know that barring misfortune or accident, we are going to outlive the pet.  This means we will see our pet die, and in many cases have to make a difficult decision about how and when that will happen.  It is sheer cowardice and horribly unfair to the dog to avoid that responsibility and shove it off on anyone else. 

In my adult life, I’ve had to bring 2 cats and a dog to the vet to end their suffering.  I’ve had one cat die in my lap because she went into a coma on a holiday weekend and didn’t seem to be in any pain that warranted a visit to the emergency vet.  In every case, I stayed with my pet stroking and loving her until life was extinguished. My current dog and cat are getting up in age and I know before too long I will have to make those difficult decisions again.  But that’s part of sharing your life with an animal.

There are many kinds of avoidance.  A neighbor told me he took his dog to the vet and handed it over to be euthanized, but couldn’t bear to be in the room. So, his dog spent her last moments away from him with almost-strangers who she was probably afraid of.  The man was thinking of how he would feel, but he is a thinking human who knew he was doing what was best.  Did he think of his poor, old dog who, I am sure,  spent her last minutes looking for him?

I once saw an even worse (though still similar) abandoment at close quarters. I was volunteering at the Humane Society when a very old Golden Retriever was left tied to the outside door (for who knows for how long?) for the staff to find.  He had bad hips, and a number of other problems, and was in pain.  The people who left him clearly expected the Humane Society to put him down, but because he was just left (instead of signed over) he was officially a stray,  The staff couldn’t do anything for him until the 7-day-wait of a a stray was up.  I spent a couple of hours with that old boy.  He was a real sweetheart and loved the attention, but every time a door opened, his ears and tail came up hopefully and he looked for “his” people.  And every time it wasn’t them and the head and ears and tail drooped again.  How many times did that happen to that poor dog in the 7 days he had to wait?

I have no patience with people who try to avoid this final decision and its consequences.  Yes, it’s hard!  Yes, it hurts!  We love our animals and if it didn’t they wouldn’t be our beloved companions.  I cried buckets each time, and I’m crying now as I remember.  I cried as I petted and loved that old Golden. 

All I’m saying is that if you can’t stand the heat don’t make the decision to go into the kitchen.  Count the cost before getting a pet. If you truly love your pet, you will love that pet — and do what is best for him or her — until the very, very end.


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