Adventures With An Older Dog
Rosie Anderson Was A Wonderful Companion
June 1, 2018
We recently lost our old French Brittany, Rosie. She was an amazing hunter, a tireless hiker, a lover of children, and a fishing fool. She had almost reached the ripe old age of 17 – she would have been 17 in September of this year. We miss her terribly.
The past couple of years or so, though, she gradually let us know that her adventuring days were over. When a dog starts to age, they can't talk to you, but you can tell from observation if they are in pain, and you can sense that they have lost their zest for certain activities.
Rosie On The Boat
Rosie always loved to go on the boat with us, and she would race over whenever one of us set the hook. She kissed every fish before it was released. In fact, the minute John started to uncover the boat, she would begin to follow him around, sticking to him like glue as if to make sure we couldn't sneak off without her. As her arthritis progressed, however, she found it more and more uncomfortable to be on the boat. I tried putting cushions and blankets down, but she wouldn't lie on them.
Then one day John uncovered the boat and she didn't follow him around. It was clear to us that her desire to go boating was gone. Bass boats can be very uncomfortable for old dogs – they bounce around a lot at speed, and the carpet doesn't have much padding. Even if I held her on my lap she suffered. It was time to start leaving her home.
Rosie On A Hike
Hiking was the same. Every year we do the AAWL Walk to Save Animals, and we do the longer walk. Two years ago, she couldn't finish. We had gone about a mile and she just sat down and looked at me. My granddaughter Emily and I took turns carrying her back to the tents. Older dogs seem to always get arthritis, and walking is good for them, but too much walking does more harm than good. I let her tell me how far she could go.
At the end there, it was all she could do to get around the block. She still loved to go outside with us, so trips that didn't involve too much hiking were fine. Just because your dog is old, you don't have to exclude them from everything – you almost have to treat them like a human toddler: do the fun stuff, just not as hard and as far as you did before.
Rosie In A Game Of 'Fetch"
Even with as simple a thing as a game of fetch they will let you know that they have lost interest. When she was young, Rosie would drive you crazy bringing things to you endlessly so you could throw them. She'd race to pick it up and race right back to do it again. Then suddenly one day a few years ago she didn't go after it. We kept trying, but it was just too much effort for her. Getting old is better than dying young, but it's still hard.
Rosie On A Shorter Walk
Near the end we didn't do much more than that short walk early in the morning, and maybe another short walk in the evening if it was cool. She sometimes didn't even seem excited about the walk, but she always went. And even though she was nearly deaf and blind, she always got to her feet and came to greet us when we got home, and not just us – every visitor got a nuzzle from her.
She was the most loving dog I have ever met. She didn't have a mean bone in her body. I had almost 17 awesome years with her and I'm grateful for that. If you have an older dog, pay attention to what their actions and attitudes are telling you. Don't quit exercise, just keep in mind that some things might cause them pain.
Making Rosie Safe And Comfortable
If you take a dog of any age on a boat, make sure you have a life vest on them. No matter where you take them, make sure you have plenty of water for them. Stash a few days' worth of any medications they are on in your vehicle in case of emergency, and do your best to use cushions and blankets to make things more comfortable for them. Rosie even had a seat belt!
Wonderful Years With Rosie
Long after she didn't go hunting with us, Rosie was still our companion: on the boat, on hikes, on walks, and even just gardening in the back yard. Old dogs may lose their zest for adventure, but they never lose their love for you, so keep them close and include them as much as you can. I hope you have as many wonderful years with your dog as we did.