Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Adventures With An Elderly Dog

For the past 5 years or so I have asked Jason to get me a puppy for every birthday, Christmas and anniversary and the response has always been "You have two dogs, you don't need a puppy". While this may be true, I am constantly reminding him that Simon is nearly 14 years old and in Lab years that's like....3 paws in the grave. Not that I want Simon to die or anything, because he's a good dog and I love him, but it is an eventual inevitability with a dog as old as he is.

What we are both beginning to realize, however, is that living with an elderly dog is as much of an adventure as living with a puppy. Gone are the days when Simon would never even think of peeing in the house, even if he refused to go outside for 3 days because he doesn't like to go out if it's too windy, or cold, or raining, or snowing, or too hot, or it's a Saturday in June. I'm just saying, the dog is picky. This has never been a problem before. He would resolutely refuse to go outside and he would hold it for days. Now when we sleep in on weekends, we wake up as soon as we hear Simon's snoring stop because if Simon is up, he has to go outside...NOW. If you have never tiptoed past your dog to avoid waking him up so you can get dressed before you have to take him outside, you have never lived. This is the only point where it's sort of lucky that he's gone deaf. We can talk and brush our teeth and he's totally oblivious. You just can't walk past him too closely, or he can smell you and it's all over. And on those nice occasions when we do wake him up and he doesn't go outside NOW, he leaves a trail of pee through our house so we can find him like some screwed up version of Hansel & Gretel. Because yes, he walks while he pees. He can't just go in one spot like a normal dog. The fact is, I'm not entirely sure he realizes he's drizzling through the house, and if he does realize it, I get the impression that he's trying to run away from his own peeing. Thus, pee trail. At least if he stayed in one spot I could get the rug shampooer out and only have to clean one place. When he walks, I have to follow the trail through the whole house. And inevitably that means down the stairs. Have you ever tried to shampoo pee off of your stairs? It's not fun.

And of course there are other things we get to enjoy as owners of an elderly pet. Your dog going senile is an adventure. This often manifests itself in Simon forgetting that we have fed him. Or thinking that every time we come home from ANYWHERE, he is supposed to be fed. We feed him after we get home from work every day, so apparently the leaving and coming back is a trigger for "Food time" to him. He will stand in front of his bowl and shuffle back and forth, grunting at us like we have done him some sort of horrible disservice. I'm 99% sure he isn't even hungry, but he firmly believes he MUST be fed because we left and came back. This often happens even if we've just gone out to get the mail and come back into the house.

He has also decided that now that he's old, he's going to do what he wants. This means walking out the front door whenever he pleases, drinking from the toilet, barking at everything that moves outside the house, sleeping all day, eating Sam's food, and vomiting on the floor whenever he's bored. And forget playing ball with him in the house. Now, when he gets really excited while playing, he spontaneously poops. It goes something like this:

*Jason throws ball*

*Simon chases ball and brings it back*
*Jason throws ball again*
*Simon chases ball and while chasing drops some poo on the floor*
*Simon looks at Jason as if to accuse him of being the one who pooped on the floor*
*Jason puts ball away*
*Simon stares at poop until it is cleaned up, highly offended that Jason would do such a thing*

This has become my life, day in and day out with the joys of an arthritic elderly dog. Where I used to worry that he was getting played with enough, I now worry that he got his daily aspirin. It's all an adventure.

And some days it makes me rethink that puppy idea.

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