On September 30th most of the original Active Paws crew headed out to Hopkinton State Park for the annual Boxer Bash party hosted by The Boxer Rescue. It was a rainy cold Autumn day that brought out 10’s of rain-coated Boxers and their adoring owners. Over $1400 was raised for the rescue, one of the most successful single-breed events I have ever attended and on such a dismal day.
Among those Boxers that attended the event I saw a lot of white-faced seniors milling around collecting cookie bounties and pets from anyone that would doll them out. I noticed the seniors were a bit more sly than the youngsters. The young pups would jump and bark at people, overtly misbehaving so that their humans would give them a command then reward for doing a good job. The seniors had it all figured out and rather than be bad to start with, they would saunter up to an unsuspecting cookie-wielding human and just give the look. You know that look;
Tank, giving Kelly one of the directors of the Boxer Rescue the “beg face”
The foundation dogs of Active Paws are Boxers, so we have a natural affinity towards the breed, but just as the business creeps towards its 10 year anniversary so have many of the Active Paws pets. As humans we generally think of youth as the cornerstone of health, beauty and all that we strive for with the millions spent on beauty products that make us look younger. With dogs however, I have found myself drawn to the seniors, the older the more I want to squeeze them! With Boxer’s especially they get that white face that never lies it shows the life of the dog through the peppery white hairs to the clouding eyes that say, ‘love me harder, hold me closer and you know what, let me get away with it because I’m old!’
Tank won “Sexiest Senior” at the Boxer Bash, he’s pictured here at another rescue event sporting his blue ribbon
I’m not exactly sure how my love of senior dogs manifested but I pickup the pace every time I see one. I get down on my knees and beg for them to come lean into me. I just want to shower them with love. Don’t get me wrong, I love the young-ins but they get all the attention. Seniors need and deserve that little bit more.
As dogs age, just like with humans they need different care. This means feeding better nutrition, paying close attention to any growths that show up, checking out their teeth more frequently, paying close attention to any lameness and of course making life easier/less stressful on their bodies.
According to the AVMA, approximately 40% of dogs seen by veterinarians are 6 years or older, remember, old age is not a condition or disease, its a stage in life. We would care for a puppy differently than a 4 year old dog so please think closely about what could better your 10 year old’s life. Aging occurs slowly and almost imperceptibly over time for our pets, try and be objective and proactive, finding a limp or a lump too late can be devastating for you and your pet.
Its fun and a great bonding experience to help improve the quantity of your senior pet’s life. I teach a Pet First Aid and CPR Class where we learn how to do a “Snout to Tail” assesment. Basically you methodically go over your pet’s body checking everything snout to tail. My 10 year old thinks its the longest best message of his life!
Just this morning after a quick snout to tail to figure out why my boy had some pain trembles going on I gave Tank a puzzle toy. A younger dog would have this all over the place in a second but Tank systematically worked on getting each plug out to methodically lick out the treats stowed underneath. He thoroughly enjoyed the toy and I was tickled pink watching him.
I know some people see the white in their pet’s faces but don’t see any of their age, I used to be one of these people until I really stepped back and took a long hard look at my dogs. If your pets show any of these signs, its time to get them to the vet!
- Difficulty chewing food
- Ulcers, lumps or masses
- Increased water intake
- Change in weight
- Difficulty in getting up
- Bad or foul breath
- Intolerance to temperature changes
- Change in appetite
- Excessive panting
- Stiffness in joints
- Hearing or sight loss
- Sleeping more
- Decrease in activity
- Change in behavior
Senior pets should see the vet more frequently regardless of any apparent issues. Vital organs can start to head south very quickly, its better to catch an issue early before it causes discomfort or worse, death to your pet. Plus, older pets have a reduced ability to withstand the effects of infection, injury or disease. They need our help more. Kidney disease is the #1 killer in cats, #2 for dogs (heart is #1 in dogs).
Also how is your pet’s gate? Do they walk with a slight limp or are they noticeably stiff when first getting up? Consider joint supplements like Joint Mobility from Wholistic Pet Organics. I noticed a big change in my 10 year old’s flexibility.
So the long and short of my sexy senior rant is don’t be afraid to pay close attention to the older feline and canine companions out there. They might not chase after the laser pointer or retrieve the ball like they used to but they deserve even more of your time and attention; after all, they have spent the larger portion of their lives loving a human so love them back greater. Also if you’re looking to adopt and look over the senior pet because they wont be with you as long, keep in mind they will appreciate your time and attention so much more.
I wanted to take some time to share with you some of the white faces with whom we have had the pleasure to share our days.
In this video link is our friend Lexi, she is 12.5 years young! https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=519568240005