We watch our dogs the same way we watch and notice other members of our family. Whether he is moving slower than usual, eating less or having digestive difficulties, we see these things and are rightfully concerned.
Sometimes with an elderly dog, there seems to be “one last spring,” when she finds the energy she used to have as a puppy. During this period, games of fetch and catch are played with enthusiasm, and the dog seems to be completely present in a way she might not have been for a while. However, when this brief period ends a few days later, the change is dramatic. Appetite will drop off, she will be reluctant to move and she will demonstrate an unwillingness to be alone.
Author and psychologist Rob Pasick noted this behavior in his old Yellow Lab, Lucy, in the chapter “Nine-lives Syndrome” of his book, Conversations With My Old Dog. The book is about the lessons he learned from Lucy, especially as she began to show her age. His thoughts on mortality, both canine and human, are captured with sensitivity, humor and grace. As he comes to terms with her certain demise, he also finds she has prepared him to face the death of his father and the effects of aging in his own body.
Conversations With My Old Dog won’t extend your dog’s life, but it will help you celebrate and remember the years you had together.