Have You Ever Had Anticipatory Grief that You Back Burnered?

It was a typical veterinarian visit; Chanel, our 16 year old poodle needed a vaccine shot. I did have a few questions to put in perspective what I didn’t remember happening with our previous dog of 15 years when she was aging.

“So doc, do you have time for just a few questions about Chanel?” I asked looking at my notes app where I had captured about 3 or 4 questions. Chanel was letting me know she was ready to leave, after all she is never fond of our trips to the vet.

“Certainly,” he said with a smile as he leaned back on the counter top, looking ready to take them on.

“First thing is, Chanel is roaming the house in the evening. When I do find her, she is sometimes standing, looking at a wall, seemingly wondering, just what am I doing here? A couple of rooms are gated now and I shut all other doors so I know she will be safe. Is this normal?”

That’s when the discussion turned. Not only was this normal but, I was about to hear about a few more unfamiliar issues, already on my list. Dog dementia is real and most of the symptoms typically advance.

My guess is if she could talk, Chanel would say she still enjoys thinking about things which once gave her a quality of life to run like a rabbit, but that she can no longer do. Her energy and vitality were contagious. She likely fondly has doggy dreams remembering:

  1. Playing with the tennis ball until she couldn’t fetch any more. Her intelligence even forced us to spell the word backwards when we used it. If we weren’t able to take her for a sometimes hour long session of hitting with a tennis racquet for her to run after, we ended up with “No time for l-l-a-b today.
  2. Bolting off of furniture and running around the house to greet us on any return home, whether 30 minutes or 2 weeks.
  3. Rolling over easily, and on command, for a “tummy rub” over almost any kind of petting.
  4. Her pride of her housebreaking would often stare you down until you minded her.
  5. Jumping about a foot off the floor hearing, “Want to go for a ride?” Until she is in the car and realizes “Hey we might be going to the vet,” at which point she starts shaking.

chanel-dog-eleganceAs her 16th birthday is just days away, she is most happy sleeping. The only other main interest is to have the occasional treat, like an hors d’oeuvre or dessert for her.

For certain there are many more things for Chanel to doggy dream about, and for us to remember, but these come first to mind as regular unique Kodak moments. If you are not a pet person it may sound foreign to you or you may think, come on, it’s just a dog what are you getting all sentimental about?

I can assure you that the majority of pet owners would disagree and maybe even argue with you that it’s an over reaction. Our dog, or our cat, is like a family member. I remember Chanel’s dog trainer saying when we took her for obedience lessons at 1 year old, “She’s going to be like a child to you.” He was spot on.

Now that she is older we are just putting our anticipatory grief on the back burner. From what I learned from the vet in my discussion Chanel is still here, and while I am thinking clearly, I can do what I can so she will feel loved, adored and spoiled, for a little more time.

Bless her little self at 16 years old when there are still a couple of things that cause that tail to wag and her ears to perk up, and for her to somehow display the energy to slowly climb those few steps that she once would run up and down.

As a baby boomer it is that same aging gracefully I hope to have!

Are you a dog or cat owner? What have you noticed as your little loved pet ages?



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  1. It’s always hard thinking about the moment when a pet’s time will come. When I had to get my Australian Shepherd put to sleep at only ten years old when she got spleen cancer, I remember asking the vet, “Why can’t they live longer?”

    My oldest pet right now if Troxel, a siamese mix who is about 13-14 years old. He’s still pretty spry, but his teeth aren’t as good as they used to be, and he will often wail until he gets some soft food, which my husband and I call “stinky flavor.” Then there’s the way their faces just start to look a little grizzled. Still though, I’ve never had a problem with euthanasia when the time comes. On the other hand, my mom always has. It’s hard to say goodbye, that’s much is for sure.
    Jeri recently posted…How to Pitch a Book: Lost Girl Road PNWA 2013My Profile

    • That is young isn’t it Jeri. I can’t even bring myself to say the E word. Although it was 18 years ago it was a necessary decision for our previous dog, the event is emblazoned on my mind. The feelings can come on strong if I stay there long enough. So I rarely revisit that memory. For now I continue to enjoy Chanel and let her enjoy what she still does. Thanks.
      PatriciaWeber recently posted…What Is Productive Procrastination?My Profile

  2. Few hours earlier I’ve learned one my online blogging
    friends pet dog Nico has died. It’s really a shocking news because
    Nico died at 7 years old. My friend is so upset and there is
    nothing we can do in this situation. Patricia you’re doing quite
    well by taking good care of your pet at his best alive time,
    at-least it’ll satisfy your mind if something wrong happens to your
    pet. Anyways many BLESSINGS for your pet and I pray she live longer
    and longer without any complications. Thanks.
    Franky recently posted…Benefits of shaving your pubic areaMy Profile

    • Frankly that is said. I cannot imagine how your friends are coping. The best outcome might be how they honor Nico’s memory now. Complications in pure bred dogs, as I have learned with Chanel, are inevitable. In breeding for perfection in particular in a different size than the original, that is what happens. Thanks Franky.

  3. Patricia-I have had dogs all my life. I now have a five year Dachshund. Just like you we have to spell words because she is so smart. Chanel is the greatest blessing. No matter what Chanel will always be failthful to you. Dogs think that you are the best thing in the world. And I believe the bond between our two species has been so enduring because dogs are as capable of loving us as we are of loving them. We all get older and do slow down. Being a baby boomer myself, my Roxie is my child and she makes me feel young again. Enjoy your blessed gift until the end. She looks good to me.
    Arleen recently posted…How To Reboot and Get Back to BusinessMy Profile

    • Patricia Weber

      For sure she, Chanel brings us immense joy. We can learn a lot from dogs. Chanel has inspired me to write several blog posts about those lessons as I call them.

  4. My Sam is my boy. He is my company when I am working at home and always knows when I need some extra attention. I had to put my old cat down and I hated it but I knew it was time. 🙂
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Homemade Baking Mix: RecipeMy Profile

  5. I had to give up my pet cat when my son came along because he had such strong allergies. We recently got birds and I don’t have any problem understanding the love and grief that can be associated with anticipating the loss of a pet. I buy sympathy cards for friends who have lost a pet the same way I would someone who has lost a family member. At the end of the day, that’s precisely what it feels like.
    Debra Yearwood recently posted…8 Tips On What To Do In A Communications Crisis And 9 Tips On What Not To DoMy Profile

  6. Suzanne Fluhr (Just One Boomer)

    Our dog, Dino, an 8 year old cockapoo, is definitely our “fur baby”. This is kind of astounding since my husband was ready for him to be returned to the SPCA soon after my son and I adopted him when he was 6 months old. Now, my husband is his favorite person. (Of course, Dino’s back story prompted a blog post on Boomeresque). We adopted him when I started working at home, so he has most definitely been my buddy. We enjoy him, but also the instant bond we have with other dog lovers. It’s amazing how many people will stop to chat when you have a dog with you on a walk. We will be traveling for 5 months next year and Dino will be staying with my sister-in-law. Dino will love the one he’s with and my sister-in-law is a dog person, so I know he’ll be well looked after physically and emotionally, but I am dreading that separation and the inevitable final one.
    Suzanne Fluhr (Just One Boomer) recently posted…Traveling through HistoryMy Profile

  7. Krystyna Lagowski

    We’ve always had pets – dogs, cats, guinea pigs. Right now I have a 16 year old Burmese cat, who was diagnosed with failing kidneys last winter, and it was so sad. Can’t bear the thought of her leaving me, but we’re determined to make the most of our time together. She’s becoming thin and frail, but surprised me the other day – I bought a laser toy, and she perked right up, chased after it like a kitten. It was just a delight! There’s hardly a greater joy than watching her pupils grow like saucers as she scampers after the taunting red laser beam!
    Krystyna Lagowski recently posted…Applause, applause for the Bauhaus Eos convertibleMy Profile

    • This is somewhat where I am Krystyna: making the best of what time we might have still here together. And you never know what a day will bring. I’ve this week discovered Chanel loves tilapia. Granted I have to bake a filet for her every few days but hey, if it keeps her happy and puts a little more weight on her, terrific. Sounds like the laser beam is just what your cat needed. Thanks for posting.
      PatriciaWeber recently posted…Have You Ever Had Anticipatory Grief that You Back Burnered?My Profile

  8. Jeannette Paladino

    Pat — I can understand the grief over a lost pet, although I’ve never owned a dog or cat. Probably rare, but I didn’t have one as a child growing up, and now I live in a pet-free building. But I have friends with dogs and cats and even I’ve become attached to them. One friend has a yellow lab. Labs are the sweetest dogs on earth. I met Sunny when he was a puppy and now he’s 13 (which is a long life for a big dog). He’s failing and my friend is dreading when he’s gone. I know I will miss him very much. Such a loving dog who likes nothing more than for you to stroke his head and rub is belly. The most endearing thing about animals is that they give you unrequited love.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…6 Ways to “Brand” Yourself to Success Even if You’re Just Starting OutMy Profile

  9. Cheryl Therrien

    I SO do not want to think about this. I have 3 dogs and 1 cat. Kerri is the first fur child my husband and I have. She is aging and not aging well. She has developed health issues. It breaks my heart that she can no longer do those things she loves, like tug of war and running after a ball. I don’t know how long she has left, but I hope that I do not have to make the decision for her. I am going to have a small emotional breakdown when it’s her time. She really is more like a toddler than a dog… I am sad now. Time to stop writing.
    Cheryl Therrien recently posted…Making QuicksandMy Profile

  10. Interesting Pat. Had never heard of dog dementia before. Am sure you will make Chanel feel loved and cherished.
    Catarina recently posted…What’s your strategy?My Profile

  11. Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie)

    This really threw me back to memories of my dog and cats throughout the years…how much I loved them and a big a part of my family they were. The end is the worst, but I found it was easier for all of us if I didn’t anticipate it. But I still miss them.
    Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie) recently posted…The Speech Police… Where’s The Justice?My Profile

  12. I am a cat owner. My oldest cat is 10 years old and is doing fairly well. My MIL cat on the other hand is 18 or so and she feels that she won’t last much longer. She’s still happy though but sleeps a lot.

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