Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Adventures With an Elderly Dog, Part 2

For those of you who are new around here, this is Simon. Simon is old. Like, I'm not talking that whole "Oh, Fido is 9 this year. He's getting old". No. In dog years, Simon is like Moses old. He's a 15 year old lab, and for a breed that tends to crap out around 12, that makes him ancient. Over the past couple of years we've been experiencing life with an elderly pet for the first time. Simon is Jason's first dog, and all of my childhood pets tended to die fairly young due to an uncanny ability to Darwin Award themselves, typically related to an affinity for chasing cars on the 50 mph road in front of our house. We've had friends who have dealt with elderly animals, so we've witnessed their trials and difficulties, but I think that you can never fully know what it's like until you do it yourself. So, Simon is treating us to a variety of experiences with him as he ages. His hearing is gone, his eyesight isn't what it used to be, he has arthritis in his back hips, he barks constantly at nothing because he's lost the ability to run and play so this is his only form of entertainment. It's been an interesting road.

We are still dealing with the pee issue we had a year ago (more info on that here), and now sometimes he poops in his sleep because, hey, why not right? And now, because we're masochists, we've added a puppy into the mix. To be fair, the puppy was meant to be a friend for Sam in the event that Simon is no longer with us, but the puppy seems to have decided Sam is a waste of his time and he wants to play with Simon. Simon does not feel the same way. Right now we're at a point where Simon sleeps like 15 hours or more a day, and the annoying puppy interrupting his glorious napping is not welcome. Now he barks at the puppy. Whenever he sees him. No matter what the puppy is doing. Puppy is lying on the floor chewing a toy, Simon comes in from another room and barks. Puppy is running laps through the house, Simon barks every time he runs through the room Simon's in. It's kind of an ongoing thing. I'm not sure what the barking is supposed to do, because the puppy seems to think that it's a trigger to play, but Simon keeps doing it.

What's interesting is that I think that, while you get that your dog is old and that he's got different needs, it's doing the normal little things that make you realize just how old he is. It's taking a walk and seeing him only make it about half way before he wants to lie down and take a nap, or tossing a treat that would normally have been snapped out of mid-air just to have it land on the floor and get licked up carefully once it's sniffed out. Tonight, my realization came while giving Simon his bath. An event that used to take Jason and I a good 40 minutes to accomplish as one of us pinned him down while the other scrubbed, because he would fight us both off to leap out of the tub and go rub himself on every piece of furniture we owned, was done tonight by just me. Jason lifted him into the tub, but then he went back downstairs and I did the scrubbing. There wasn't a fight anymore. This time he stood there, trying not to slip because his back legs give him trouble, and he was shaking. That's new, because he has never been nervous in the tub. Part of me wondered if he was in there going "It's wet! I ordered a sponge bath! I want to talk to Nurse Nancy! I hate the wet!" because he's confused a lot these days. I stood there, as I scrubbed him and cursed his water resistant lab fur that takes more shampoo than any dog should ever require, and thought about how different he is as an old dog. I thought it was nice not to have to wrestle him into submission just to scrub his chest, but at the same time it was a little sad that he didn't have it in him to fight with me anymore. After a while he seemed to relax a bit and while I wouldn't say he enjoyed having a bath, he got a stupid puppy smile on his face and stood up to shake off and shower me with everything that stupid water resistant fur didn't want to hold onto anymore. I'm pretty sure the showering was intentional.

And just as I was thinking how happy I was to get through the bath without incident, since he hadn't slipped or fallen or hurt a hip, I reached down to drain the water and realized that yes....yes he definitely pooped in the tub. Thanks pal. I love you too.


Dune said...

My samoyed growing up had hip dysplasia, and as she got older, she would do the same thing in the tub when we washed her, almost like her hips wouldn't hold her up in there anymore (and this was a dog who would have to be restrained from jumping in the tub with anyone taking a bath when she was a pup). Our vet told us to try laying a bath towel in the tub before we bathed her so that she felt safer, and it worked really well for her. Probably won't make Simon any happier, but it might help make him feel more secure...

Dune said...

Simon is really lucky to have such caring humans, btw! You guys are awesome.