Loving Your Aging Dog

There’s no two ways about it…Genevieve is an old lady. She takes 8 pills a day to keep her from having diarrhea, which sometimes works. She take 1 pill a day to help keep her from peeing uncontrollably. She takes 1 pill a day to help her appetite and cognitive function. She’s blind. She doesn’t leave the house anymore, except to go in the back yard to do her business. We take her out front sometimes, but after 2 1/2 years of being blind, I think it’s scary for her. I can’t leave her in the back yard, because she might get stuck behind the air conditioner unit or tangled up in the rose bushes.

I’ll admit, I miss my walking buddy. I miss the days when she was thrilled to go for a 3 to 4 mile walk with me, trotting the whole way, happy to be home to her water and a nap. I miss the days when she would follow me around during the day, especially after I came home to work. She stopped coming upstairs about 6 months ago, after almost falling down the stairs a couple of times. I think up is fine, down is dangerous.

But now we’re in this new time, a time when we have to watch her and make sure she’s not suffering, make sure she’s content and comfortable. Sometimes difficult when a previously piggish pooch suddenly becomes a presently picky pooch, turning her nose up at many of my attempts to get her to eat. Sometimes she’ll go on a strike and not eat for 2 or 3 days. Once this happened, and we made an appointment to have her put to sleep the following Monday. But then she rallied and started eating over the weekend, and the vet said it was up to us, there was no immediate need to put her down. Ugh. What a horrid decision. Do we put her to sleep now, to avoid any future suffering? Or do we wait, promise ourselves that we’ll watch and do our best, but try to enjoy our last days with her. We decided we weren’t ready to let her go, as she was still comfortable and content. But we’re on alert, watching for that time when she won’t be OK anymore. We’ve talked to Maya, who says she’s not happy about it, but she understands. Ugh.

We love our baby dog. We try to give her all of the attention and love we can, though like an old person, she’s not always interested or engaged. At least she’s not grumpy. For now, it’s about trying to get her to eat. Trying to get all of those damn pills down her throat. Trying to keep perspective, and know that we don’t want her to suffer, but at the same time, we don’t need to let her go before her time. Not easy.

5 thoughts on “Loving Your Aging Dog

  1. I feel for you. Making that decision about Caspar was one of the more horrid things I’ve done. Oddly, it wasn’t hard – it was so the right time. But I didn’t want to.

    When I was 19, I came back from my first term away to find my dog had been put to sleep. I don’t think I ever forgave my parents for that.

  2. Each time you post a picture of her, I’m struck by the kindness in her lovely face. I’m sorry that this is such a difficult time for all of you, this twilight of her life.

  3. Sweet Sweet pup.
    These times are when I ask myself why do I allow myself to share my life and fall in love with someone with such a short life expectancy, What’s the point as it just tears up your heart. But then I have to remind myself of all the joy and shared loved and I learned to cherish that time instead.

    This pup of yours had a hard first few years, and joining your family has been the best part of her life. So much love has been given and shared, which makes this part of her life so much harder on you guys.

    I’m crushed you are at this point in her life with your family. It just sucks. HUGS.

  4. I just want to reach through the screen and pet her. (And I’m so grateful that my 10-year old dog is stretched out against my feet, happily snoozing as I type this.) The hardest part is always letting go. As our vet told us during Jilly’s last illness, though–she’ll let you know when she’s ready. Lots of elderly ladies don’t eat much.

  5. I’m really sorry, J. It’s heartbreakingly sad to lose a pet, and very difficult having to make that decision, which, as you say, one doesn’t want to do too soon nor too late, when all your girl has left are bad days.


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