Senior Dogs Are Older Treasures

I’ve been lucky. I’ve watched all my dogs, mostly Golden Retrievers, become senior dogs, living to their breed’s life expectancy and then some. In fact, my book Charlie: A Love Story, about one of my Golden Retrievers, begins when Charlie would have been considered one of those senior dogs. Charlie’s story – which you can find out more about by clicking on the following link: charliealovestory.com – is all about those later years. It’s about his indomitable will, with which he fought melanoma and proceeded to live well beyond his breed’s life expectancy, and about all I did to care for him as he became one of those senior dogs. Goldens are prone to cancer, and in fact half of all dogs past the age of ten develop it.

There’s lots that can be done to help these wonderful older and wiser beings- these senior dogs. Keep their bodies active. Nothing strenuous, but just make sure those joints are mobile. And stimulate their minds, with new things to do and changes in routine. Also, nutritional requirements are different for senior dogs. And seeing your veterinarian more often is important, particularly to monitor any change in liver and kidney function. Equally important is to give these senior dogs as much love as possible – lots of physical touch. They often start losing their hearing, which makes touch even more important.

As regards the term “senior dogs,” I never thought of any of my dogs that way. For example, I called Charlie “Puppy” his whole life, and even when he became a senior dog, I continued to see that puppy face I fell in love with when I decided to get him at thirteen weeks.

Why think of these magnificent beings as senior dogs? If perception is reality, then maybe there are better words to describe this stage in a dog’s life. But rest assured that no matter what you call them, most still have lots of life in them and lots to give. My book, Charlie: A Love Story is about this and more. These older dogs should be treasured for all the love, devotion, and joy they’ve given over the years.