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Advice on living life with an elderly dog

(22 Posts)
RichmondPark1 Sat 06-Aug-22 09:57:26

When we retired a decade ago the very first thing we did was adopt our beloved Jack Russell mix-up type terrier from a rescue centre. From day one she has been a joy and the three of us have been devoted and inseparable. If the dog can't come with us we don't go and she has only been left alone for short periods in extremis (e.g. hospital visits). We are outdoorsy, active folk and walk for miles every day and go camping for weeks on end in the summer.

Over the last year our dear old dog has slowed down really noticeably and is happy just to have a couple of short plods around the park each day and then retire to her basket to sleep. She's had several check overs by the vet who confirms that she's 100% well and happy and it's just that at 13 she's getting on a bit.

We adore her and want to do the best for her, but are desperate to continue involving her in all aspects of our life. She is our priority and we find we have become much less active and adventurous ourselves to accommodate her needs As still reasonably active, young at heart retirees this is not ideal. Hopefully the dear old thing has years ahead of her so we are thinking of this as a long rather than a short term situation.

We have no family we could leave her with and if I'm honest, even if we did we wouldn't do that.

I wonder if anyone has been in a similar situation and how did you handle it so as to do the best for your dog without putting your own life on hold?

DillytheGardener Sat 06-Aug-22 10:15:01

Unfortunately it’s doubtful she will want to become active and accompany you both in your adventures anymore. If you can afford it find a good pet sitter. That can come to your home and on days/weekends/holidays you aren’t home, and take your dog on a couple of wee walks and feed it. We do this in our dogs ‘retirement’ years so we can still live active lives.

StarDreamer Sat 06-Aug-22 10:28:33

Could you have something someway between a pushchair, a wheelchair and a pram onto which you could place her in a basket so she can be with you without needing to walk?

Yet light enough so that as the need arose she could be carried by one of you while the other of you lifts the "buggy" over a kerb or whatever.

RichmondPark1 Sat 06-Aug-22 10:39:47

Thank you so both much for your suggestions. I will look into both options. I do like the pushchair idea very much.

Your idea DillytheGardener has made me think I could try to find someone else in our situation and that we could dog sit for each other...then the dog would get to know the other dog and people and we wouldn't feel so bad leaving her.

Sago Sat 06-Aug-22 10:46:42

Our Patterdale was put to sleep in February this year, she was 16.
Up until January of 2021 she could walk miles with us as we tramped across the Yorkshire countryside.

Her last long walk was about 10 miles, she came home and barely left her bed for 3 days.
Even the sight of boots and sticks no longer set her off jumping and barking.
We went on our hikes without her.
She was happy with just gentle walks around our local area, she would put the brakes on when she had had enough so we turned around and headed home.
Sleep was by now her favourite pastime.

Our last holiday with her was this Christmas, we had a week in the Dales, she had gentle walks and the family around her with lots of turkey titbits.

Her last fortnight was starting to look grim, she had lost the light behind her eyes, was becoming incontinent and didn’t want to go out.
We knew it was time.

We all have such happy memories of dear Nell and know that she lived her best life with us.

Let your little terrier just be and enjoy her company.

MerylStreep Sat 06-Aug-22 10:47:58

I see someone with one of these walking their dog.

Grandmabatty Sat 06-Aug-22 10:49:04

I'm another who would recommend a buggy to take her in on your walks. Then she can walk when she likes but rests when her legs are tired. She'll still enjoy being outside and with you.

MiniMoon Sat 06-Aug-22 10:49:23

What about something like this? I live near Hadrian's Wall and have seen dogs being carried this way by several hikers.

Blindfish50 Sat 06-Aug-22 10:52:58

How about a doggy carrier if she's not too heavy. My DD has one for her Cavachon also a bike box. He still loves going everywhere with the family.

NotSpaghetti Sat 06-Aug-22 11:00:51

My dear friends just stopped walking together. I'm afraid they took it in turns to have outings. It was at least 3 years - the dog was extremely "vocal" and cried regularly even if only one of them was missing. I think introducing dog-sitters now whilst you have a chance is a great idea.
Their dog was no.1 in that family

Razzamatazz Sat 06-Aug-22 11:01:46

Jazz is 13 and has arthritis in both front wrists, and until recently, was on Loxicom and YuMove. If his pain was severe I also have vet paracetamol.

He started crying in his sleep in April and the vet said there is a new drug called Librella - it is an antibody that helps with pain relief. It is £60 per month, and it has helped with his pain. No side effects at all.

He will walk, but not far. I have his nails trimmed regularly. He can still run on the beach every day, but I take the stroller and push him back if the tide is out a long way.

I have two strollers, one for the pavements, and one for the car. He is still a busy, curious sheltie.

If you can get a stroller I do recommend the Togfit, I saw one for sale on Facebook market place recently.

Maya1 Sat 06-Aug-22 11:02:24

We are in almost the same situation as you RichmondPark1.
Our border collie is almost 11 and riddled with arthritis and since last September won't sleep alone downstairs. I now sleep downstairs with him. He is afraid of stairs, so won't go upstairs.

Our lives revolve around him, everything is planned around him and his needs.

The one thing that has helped him in the last eighteen months is a drug called Librela. It really is a wonder drug, enabling to go out for gentle walks again. That might be worth looking into.

Ours cannot be left with anyone else and cannot be in enclosed spaces so has never been in kennels. We love him and he has brought us such joy. Nothing will ever be too much trouble for him.

If you want more information about the Librela, please pm me.

I hope you have more happy years with your girl.

dustyangel Sat 06-Aug-22 11:03:52

Could you foster another dog? Our Nephew’s mixed up terrier type little dog who must be at least 20 has looked on her last legs several times over the last few years. Yet each time he has adopted/rescued another dog, she has had a new lease of life.
He recently adopted a large Sierra da Estrela dog who’d had a broken hip from being run over and all three of them are getting fitter and doing longer walks each day.

If you are able to foster even temporarily, it might help your own dog without being a commitment that is too long for your own health.

Razzamatazz Sat 06-Aug-22 11:05:23

I forget to say there is also a bike attachment, if you go cycling. Make sure you buy one big enough, I saw a dog in a very small one recently on one of the very very hot days, I did feel for it.

I have also bought him a 'raised' food dish.

Witzend Sat 06-Aug-22 11:05:26

To be frank, we stopped going away unless we could take her with us - e.g. to stay with friends. She was intensely attached to me, and although we’d often put her in kennels in previous years, once she was old with a few health problems, I couldn’t do that to her. Like you, we had nobody I’d have felt happy to leave her with.

Leaving her at home for half a day was fine, but no more. Very short walks ‘to do the needful’ were all she could manage.

She was half cocker spaniel - the owner of her mother never knew who her father was - she suspected some ruffian on a farm!
She was eventually PTS at 14 1/2, and TBH we should have done it a bit sooner.
We’ve never had another dog - I’d love one, but when you have nobody to leave them with - and kennels around here often need to booked well in advance, so no spur of the moment trips or whole days out - it’d be just too much of a tie.

Razzamatazz Sat 06-Aug-22 11:08:37

@Maya1 yes, kennel days are over for Jazz too.

I was very upset to collect him from kennels recently after my first trip away since lockdown, and find he had poo stuck in his fur, they hadn't checked his bottom. No idea how long he'd been like that, I thought they would be giving him special attention as they know his age, I won't ever take him again. He'll be 14 on 12 October.

Maya1 Sat 06-Aug-22 11:16:08

That is awful. Razzamatazz. How uncomfortable for poor Jazz.
He looks an absolutely stunning boy in his photo.

Glad he is doing well on the Librela.

RichmondPark1 Sat 06-Aug-22 17:21:52

Thank you all so much for your understanding and helpful advice. I loved hearing about your dogs and seeing the beautiful photos of Jazz and Nell. Don't we all love our pups!

I will speak to the vet about Librela and am going to look into the togfit/bike basket idea. We would do anything for her really to ensure that her life is as happy as it can be for as long as possible. Here's my girl Tilly.

NotSpaghetti Sat 06-Aug-22 18:51:50

Well all these lovely pooches are so lucky to have loving families. I do hope you get something sorted for little Tilly!

Razzamatazz Sun 07-Aug-22 10:04:13

I met someone last night, she had her 15 year old dog in a buggy.

Her dog hadn't been out of her garden for two years because of her difficulty walking, the owner admitted to being embarrassed to use a buggy until she saw me passing regularly with mine. I'm glad her dog has some stimulation again.

Caleo Sun 07-Aug-22 11:01:00

Maybe have several options for dog transport. I wonder if your dog would be small enough to fit one of these baby carriers that strap on to the parent's chest or back.

My GRT is small enough for one of those however I understand yours is mixed breed so may be bigger than my dog.

Caleo Sun 07-Aug-22 11:01:29

I mean JRT