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:
- 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.
- Bolting off of furniture and running around the house to greet us on any return home, whether 30 minutes or 2 weeks.
- Rolling over easily, and on command, for a “tummy rub” over almost any kind of petting.
- Her pride of her housebreaking would often stare you down until you minded her.
- 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.
As 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?