Now, I, Professor K9, am a little cranky as I begin to write this, being a senior dog and academic guru at that. I have had many years of experience and I daresay expertise in the field of academic research regarding those of my doggy kind. Allow me to therefore say that I am a bit of an old dog; Professors like myself, though with great intellectual ability, need a little tender loving care. Dog owners of the human kind need to know what to expect when taking care of senior dogs like myself, this frail, aging Professor; I would also like to put in a good word for elderly canines and encourage the adoption of older dogs. Hence the objective of my discourse today.
Taking care of elderly canines like myself is a huge Dog-sponsibility.
What can Human dog owners expect when taking care of aged dogs like ourselves? A few knotty problems, I am afraid. If there is already a dog of a ripe old age in the home, or if the Human is thinking of adopting an older one of my kind, he has to bear a few things in mind because relating to an elderly canine means that one has to have certain clear expectations. And so, what are they?
Elderly Canines like me are prone to all kinds of illnesses.
A dog growing old is very much like our human counterpart who is prone to arthritis, rheumatism, heart disease, stroke and other diseases related to old age; contrary to what most think, canines are not infallible, you know. The canine is also susceptible to all forms of disease as it grows older.
A rather fearful one is Canine Cognitive Dysfunction or Dog Dementia. If the elderly human is prone to this, so are we; some elderly canine folk with this condition tend to stare at walls or lose themselves in the home.
My elderly canine neighbor, Rosco, was unfortunately assaulted by lymphoma in his later years, with a lump on his right foot that he tragically developed. Had his Human owner sent him in for check ups and consultations much earlier, Rosco would still have a few more years to live.
Human dog owners should try to know their elderly canine friends before they attempt the bring them into the home; it is important for the owner to be aware of any diseases or conditions the dog may have and facilitate treatment.
Elderly canine folk like ourselves are rather slow.
Elderly humans gad about with walking sticks; what makes them think that the great Professor K9 is an exception? Old dogs, too, cannot be expected to move as fast as those puppy younglings; we cannot chase that old ball like we used to or walk for such a long time.
A case in point, of course, is my good friend Rosco. Before he passed away, unfortunately from cancer, he took a rather long time getting about from one point in the house to another, a rather unfortunate deal for him. Another elderly lady canine friend of mine, Misty, is now sleeping more and walking slower than she used to, and her Human owners rather worry that she is now staring more at walls. A little more contemplative and slow is the older dog, don’t you think?
I, Professor K9 the great, will also tend to look old.
It is not only the human who will be concerned about the wearing down of facial features or injecting Botox; we canines are conscious of our looks, too, you know, and definitely look a little less attractive as we age. Certain features that we have will be less supple, very much like how the skins of Humans sag as they grow older. Humans start growing white hair; we get grey around the muzzle.
What happens when the dog does not have a beard? Rosco, as he grew older, showed signs of a little wrinkling! Yes, the symptoms of aging are the same for us canines too!
Aging Canine Professors need hearing aids.
Yes, we do. The elderly Human becomes a little hard of hearing as they grow older, and so do we. If my dog counterparts become a little edgy when approached from behind, or become startled easily, reduced hearing loss may be an explanation. If the dog suddenly stops coming to the door, could it be then that it is experiencing hearing difficulties?
Misty, my lovely lady canine companion, is experiencing such a problem. She fails to hear the food bowl being put on the floor and is thus aware that it is not mealtime; this gives young punks like Cloudy the Westie puppy a chance to grab the food for her own. So much for Canine Consideration!
Being an old dog, my eyes may soon become off-color.
Some of us older dog folks show a bluish transparent “haze” around the pupil area as we age-no, we do not believe in colored contact lenses, that is absolutely too youngish! When we become old, we have eye problems too.
That lady friend of mine, Misty, is experiencing exactly that. She has cataracts in both her eyes, and her lazy owner has yet to remove them. No wonder she keeps bumping into those walls! Dogs cannot see as well as they smell, you know. Combine that with a cataract, and things get rather messy!
Professor K9’s muscles weaken too.
And indeed they do. Old Human Men and Women need walking sticks, so we older dogs need walking therapy as well. This is largely due to muscle atrophy or loss of muscle mass; yes, indeed it happens to even Professor Canine the Great.
I do note that my good friend Rosco became skinnier as he grew into his twilight years. It was probably because of muscle atrophy or his cancer, I dare not say which; but I do know that when such things happen, the Human owner should be sure to have the poor dog examined by a vet and make sure that he gets the requisite protein in his diet.
Sometimes, senior K9s like us become a little flabby!
Oh yes, we certainly do. Humans experience a lowering of their metabolic rates; so we canines experience that too, and a consequent bit of weight gain.
Misty, my lady friend, does need her exercise. I must remember to give her the advice I should in my capacity as the great professor and get her to walk a little more.
Should Human owners adopt senior dogs like myself?
A most perturbing insight into the nature of the dog-human relationship I, Professor Canine the great have gained is that many of my dog folk are left in animal shelters when they are old; Human owners find that hey lack the capacity to take care of us as we age. No want wants an old dog like myself, Professor Canine; I exhort Humankind to think about adopting a less junior pet and think about the advantages of claiming a more senior one. The privileges of letting older canine folk into the home are indeed plenty.
Unlike those annoying young puppies, we understand house rules better.
I have greater intellectual capacity, being much older than some of my puppy proteges. I know the house rules and what the human owner is trying to tell me; it is just a matter of finding out from him or her how and where she wants me to do things, like let go of my treasured excretion (poop, for the want of a better word).
Cloudy, my young and foolish dog counterpart, is conversely more difficult to house train than I am. I wonder why it takes so long for her little dog brain to accept that the Humans set boundaries for their dogs.
It is beneath my position as an older, intellectual dog to nip.
It is far beneath my standards as an intellectual and older canine to practice nipping. I find it rather degrading and will not do it. I do not think it is wise to chew slippers either because they cause our breaths to smell. Perhaps I used to do so when I was younger.
Cloudy, my little puppy counterpart, certainly does all that and has already damaged a few of her Human owner’s prized shoes. I would be damaging for my dignity indeed to do so.
We older canines focus better.
We older canine folk tend to concentrate on the task at hand. You will never find us being distracted when our owners call us. We are far too discipline for that.
Cloudy, that little imp, is far different, being prone to shift her attention from her owner to the toys that she sees nearby; she gets distracted on walks as well, constantly turning her attention to every child she sees. How is that for concentration?
We know what no means.
We older canines, especially those like myself who have a higher level of intellect know how to take no for an answer. It is beneath our dignity to push the point when our owners tell us know, so we settle in easily.
This is unlike young puppy upstarts who do not understand when they are told that they are told “no”. Cloudy certainly does not understand it. She still continues to bite slippers and needs a little of her Human owner’s guidance.
Unlike selfish young pups, we give love a little better.
I, Professor Canine, may sometimes have my nose in the air, but being a senior pet, I take pride in being able to give love to my owner. I know what my Human owner needs after a long day and am more sensitive. I am proud to say that I am an instant companion.
That is unlike Cloudy the West Highland Terrier (or Terror) puppy , though. She sometimes does not respect her owner when called and runs instead under the sofa.
Our older canine personalities have been shaped.
Us older canine personalities are exactly that – formed personalities. We have already formed our traits and if those are pleasant, that can be beneficial for any owner. However, it can work both ways; I can be a little stubborn, I admit.
Unlike those pesky young puppy upstarts, we leave you alone and let Human Owners have a good night’s sleep.
Being an aged canine professor who needs solitude himself, I understand why my human owner will need it so after a long day of hard work, or when he simply needs to get something done.
Cloudy loves to pester; she scrambles for attention in almost situation. Is it so necessary to be such an attention seeker?
With all that, I exhort potential human dog owners to consider adopting a senior pet like myself. it is truly beneficial and will stand them in good stead. Now, Cloudy, being young, needs a little dog discipline- my next set of discourse and research will be exactly on how to rein a young punk like her in.
By Michelle Liew